Peter Coates expects ‘very difficult times’ ahead as football, gambling firms and the rest of the world head into the unknown.
Coates and his family have built up bet365 in the 21st century to become one of the leading bookmakers in the world, employing more than 4,000 people in the Potteries and bankrolling Stoke City to spend a decade in the Premier League.
But the evaporation of sporting events will have a huge impact – and across the industry, betting firms are reviewing how trading patterns will change.
Coates said: “It will have a huge impact on the entire sector because there are very few markets. We’re in for very difficult times.
“Relying on sport as we do – that’s become virtually non-existent. There are a lot of unknown factors and we just don’t know how the trading patterns will change.”
The spread of the coronavirus is leaving little untouched through the world economy.
Stoke City have had fixtures suspended until at least April 3 – but the EFL board is meeting today to discuss options about what might happen next. Clubs have agreed unanimously to try to finish the season, whenever it is safe.
Players have been given individual training programmes to stay away from Clayton Wood until further notice.
“It’s not just football, the pressure on companies around the country and the world is enormous,” said Coates in an interview for the Daily Star.
“We can only think it’s going to get worse in the short term. There are no easy solutions and football clubs are having to try and cope.
“At Stoke, we stopped doing a lot of things last week. Community activities, visitors to the ground etc. It has a knock-on effect for all manner of people.
“Caterers will find their income has gone and they employ legions of part-time workers. The hospitality industry will be badly hit. Stock markets, you name it, they are all being hit badly. The truth is nobody really knows how it will all pan out.”
He added: “When you are old like me and you’re about to be told you can’t go out, it’s serious but we all have a great capacity to survive and I’m sure that’s what’s going to happen.
“It’s going to be bumpy ride and it’ s going to be immensely difficult for everyone. I think it’s a case of wait and see.
“The Premier League clubs are okay because of the TV income but it’s a different story for the lower league clubs. But you know, football is amazingly resilient and clubs have a great capacity to keep going and you feel that somehow they will, find a way.”