The postponement of the Euro 2020 is virtually unprecedented in modern times. Second only to the FIFA World Cup in football, the European Championships is an international event which brings a whole continent to a standstill, and is viewed by hundreds of millions elsewhere.

This year’s competition was set to be even more unique, with matches played across 12 stadiums in 12 countries, including the semi-finals and final at Wembley Stadium in London. UEFA have made it clear that even if the tournament was only being held in one country, as is usually the case, the result would have been the same.

So what now? The new plan is to hold the tournament next summer using the same format in the same locations. All very sensible so far; this allows domestic leagues the opportunity to finish their seasons where possible, and means fans and broadcasters still get their month-long festival of football, albeit 12 months later than planned. Some reports estimate that it will cost upwards of £300m to move the event to next summer, so this isn’t a decision that UEFA will have taken lightly.

But as with all major events, it’s not just about the players and the fans. There are staff working across the tournament in finance, media and facility management; contractors running merchandise and refreshment stands; hotels no longer full and empty bars around Europe. The knock-on effect will be felt hard by all concerned, to the point where companies might not exist by the time the summer of 2021 rolls around. Already, we’ve been told the airline industry is at serious risk due to the COVID-19 outbreak, so what about smaller, independent business?

UCFB academic Jarno Stegeman, whose background includes large scale event management, says the situation is “unprecedented” and that a number of questions remain unanswered. He said: “You can insure for event cancellation but this is, I assume, a forced closure by authorities so I’m not sure how this will work. Postponing it will affect national competitions, although they are already affected. Contractors working on these events, and not just the matches, will also be financially impacted. Can they financially survive the weeks and months to come?”