Ghost games in ice hockey: an emergency solution that can work

The championship will continue with ghost games until Sunday. Then the clubs decide during the week-long national team break (without international matches) how to proceed. In the meantime, there is only one question: continue with ghost games or take a break?

As soulless as ghost games may be, they are an emergency solution that can work. If the championship continues without spectators, the visibility of the sponsors in the TV broadcasts and with the media presence will be maintained. The TV money of 35 million, which was already paid half at the beginning of the season with a small discount because of the failed playoffs, is also preserved. Or put it in a simple denominator: clubs can still save around 20 percent of their revenue with ghost games.

In combination with the waiver of wages, federal money and the re-granting of the short-time-work allowance for temporary contracts, which expired on 1 September, the clubs can survive. In detail: 75 million loans from the treasury are approved for hockey in 2020 and the same amount again for 2021. Now there is a political push for these loans to be converted into subsidies. Because that’s the only way the clubs can survive. Either way, these loans will never be repaid.

The short-term unemployment scheme for temporary contracts (the players and coaches have fixed-term contracts) significantly relieves the wage costs. The demand: in ghost games, the staff can be set to short-time work. What is in the sense of the law is that the short-time working regime is intended to enable companies to get through a crisis without redundancies, which will pass at human discretion.

The concern about ghost games: if the situation should normalize and can be played again in front of an audience in January or February, is the fans angry because so many games have been played as ghost games? Couldn’t the championship have been interrupted? Then more games could be played in front of an audience. This risk is likely to below. The solidarity with the clubs and the understanding of the difficult situation is great among the season ticket holders in ice hockey.

There is, of course, a strong emotional factor: ghost games have no soul. That’s right. But now it’s about the survival of ice hockey as we know it. In times of crisis, players have to give up their emotions. After all, they are allowed to train and play. It’s a bit like a reduction to water and bread. So eating is less fun. But it feeds and you get over the line.