The UEFA Euro 2020 summer football tournament has been postponed and rescheduled for next year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. While for many betting firms, this was disappointing, it also provided them with an opportunity to improve their offerings.
On a Stats Perform funded panel on Day 2 of Betting on Sports Europe-Digital 2020 entitled The Challenges with Euro 2020, industry professionals addressed what they had learnt from the postponement of the European Championship this year and what challenges could lie ahead when the tournament is scheduled to take place in 2021.
He said: “(The Euros postponement) was a huge loss, but at the same time, we tried to turn it into an opportunity. For operators, it’s a situation where you build up the strategy, the active customer base, the presence and brand exposure. At the same time, I know for a fact that things we’ve done could have been done better.
“I saw (the Euros postponement) as a tragedy from a business point of view. It was indeed very disappointing, but now we’ve already started rebuilding and preparing again for whatever outcome it’s going to be. We hope, obviously, that the event is going to happen in 2021 so we are acting as if the event is happening.
“If the event is cancelled again, the impact on the industry is going to be significant, but I think, in the end, we will survive and we will adapt.”
When panel moderator Marc Thomas, a partner at Propus Partners, asked panellists as to whether the Euro 2020 postponement was a blessing or a disruption to their businesses, Marcin Jablonski, Chief Commercial Officer of LV Bet, clarified that his business was trying to turn the loss of the tournament into an advantage.
All panel members, including Thomas, Jablonski, James McKiernan, Betgenius’ Commercial Director, Lasha Machavariani, Setanta Sports Media CEO and Founder, and Kostas Diorelis, Head of Sportsbook Proposition at Kaizen Gaming, agreed that COVID-19 will continue to play a major role in how the Euros look next summer and that it could need improvements to the tournament to take place.
Machavariani believes that UEFA should do something similar to the UFC and create its own version of Battle Island for the tournament to ‘minimise the chance’ of more COVID spread when the panel members were asked if the current structure of the tournament, which will see games taking place in several countries, needs to be altered due to the pandemic.
McKiernan hopes the Euros will move on, but he clarified that the competition has to be played ‘in a smaller number of countries’ in order for that to happen, similar to how the Champions League and Europa League contests adapted to the pandemic earlier this year.
Diorelis said they’re still not 100 percent sure it’s going to happen, but it’s most likely going to. He added, however, the tournament format ‘won’t be the same as it was announced’ and agreed with McKiernan on a similar line of thinking that the Euros should take place in ‘one or two countries’ on the basis of the magnitude of the pandemic in those areas chosen.
Jablonski accepted that the best way to go is to ‘reduce the number of host cities and countries,’ adding that ‘football is only fun if safe.’ He pointed out, however, that he sees this as a ‘logistical nightmare’ for UEFA to position all the teams at the same time in one location.
He also raised doubts about possible postponed domestic league games causing problems for the Euros, but finally stated: “Everyone will appreciate it if the tournament can be played.”
Betting on Sports Europe-Digital is the largest conference for European sports betting operators’ senior executives, offering a forum for high-level discussions that will help shape the industry’s future.
The completely immersive event will bring together key players from markets around the continent on a common forum, exchanging best practises to solve the major challenges facing the industry and ideas about new opportunities.