Football viewing centres in Kaduna town are counting their losses following the suspension of major European football leagues to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
Many countries in Europe, which is hard hit by the pandemic, such as Italy, England, France, Spain and Scotland have announced the suspension of football matches as the authorities in those countries ramp up their effort to curtail the spread of the deadly flu-like disease. UEFA, the European football organisation has also suspended Champions Leagues and Europa League fixtures.
Some suspect that the suspension may stay in place until September when it is hoped that the highly contagious virus would have been contained.
European football leagues enjoy massive following in Kaduna and other parts of Nigeria.
On Saturday when PREMIUM TIMES visited, the usually busy viewing centres in the Kaduna were not open for business.
Arguably the two biggest viewing centres in Kaduna located at Collage Road, Unguwan Dosa were locked.
The owner of one of the viewing centres, Mani Muhammadu, said the suspension of the European leagues has been bad for business.
“I don’t do anything apart from managing my viewing centre. This weekend is the worst for me. Nothing to show. Many of my patronizers have been asking me if there will be matches to show. I will say no.
” You know this part of the world, especially here, some people are not following the coronavirus story and how devastating is it to businesses of the world including who are managers of viewing centers,” he said.
Mr Muhammadu added that he would lose about N50,000 as a result of the suspension of the English Premier League and other European leagues.
“For every match, people pay N100 each to watch. I use to show up to 10 matches Saturday and Sunday, including days that we have matches through till Thursday, like the champions league and Europa League.
“Even during the holidays when the season has ended we will still have matches to show at the weekend but now coronavirus has caused a total lockdown for us.
“All of us doing the viewing centre business have folded our arms and are praying and hoping something reasonable will happen and everything will be normal again,” he said.
At Tudun- Wada, Badarawa, Barnawa and Unguwan Sanusi, managers of viewing centres also told PREMIUM TIMES that the suspension of the league is drilling a big hole in their pockets.
A retired civil servant who is also the owner of a viewing centre in Badikko, Nasiru Mansir, said, “since I retired from government work this is what I do to make money and take care of my needs.
“Our people like watching football at viewing centres. Most of my patronizers have cable televisions at their homes but prefer to show up at viewing centres to watch important matches especially and that is money for us. But now, nothing,” he said
Viewers not happy too
Umar Mohammed, a frequent visitor to viewing centres, said, he is witnessing one of his more boring weekends
“I like to watch matches at viewing centres. One feels like he is right in the stadium. You will also meet other fans of the club you support and opposition. It is quite nice. But this coronavirus is making life unbearable for people of the world, everything is suspended.
Steven Sani, a resident of Barnawa, Kaduna, said he co-owns a viewing centre at Narayi area, but since European countries started postponing matches, the centre started suffering low patronage.
“This weekend is the worst weekend we are witnessing in terms of business. Nothing, nothing. It is now some people are really finding out this deadly pandemic the whole world is a concern and worried about,” Mr Sani said.