The English Football Season Further Delayed till April at Least
The sporting chaos due to the coronavirus looks set to continue for many more months with the English football season postponed until April 30th at least.
The announcement of the continued suspension of professional leagues was made a couple of days after UEFA moved the Euros, initially planned for June this year, to July 2021. This Summer’s Copa America has also been put back a year.
The Premier League and English Football League agreed to put professional football on hold until April 30th at the earliest, however, this date appears optimistic considering the continued spread of the virus and a potential year delay for a vaccine for COVID-19.
On Tuesday, a meeting convened by European football’s governing body accepted the switch of the Euros to 2021 in an attempt to give time to allow domestic fixtures to be played.
UEFA’s twitter feed stated that UEFA, the European Club Association, European Leagues and FIFPRO Europe had signed a joint resolution on the principles of a contingency plan regarding the 2019-20 season. They added that the principles include details on the completion of national team and club competitions.
By moving Euro 2020 to next year, UEFA hopes that the time freed from the calendar can be used to finalise national leagues, cup competitions and the remaining qualifiers for the Euros, which involve Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. These qualifiers should now take place in the June international window.
Moving of the Euros will impact football events original scheduled for next year including Nations League Finals and Under-21 Euros. The Club World Cup – due to take place in China in the summer of 2021, also looks set to be moved with a later date in 2021 being considered or even a postponement till 2022 or even 2023.
UEFA, the European Club Association, European Leagues and players’ union FIFPRO Europe have signed a joint resolution committing to completing all domestic and European club competitions by June 30th. However, the Football Association this week said the current season could be “extended indefinitely”.
Completing The Campaign is Preferred
Completing the current campaign is the preferred option for both the Premier League and the EFL. Ending the season using the team’s current standings would likely lead to many legal challenges, mainly if clubs were relegated with many still having almost a quarter of their fixtures left. Declaring the season null and void would also likely lead to complaints and potential further action.
A joint statement issued by the FA, Premier League and EFL expressed “a commitment to finding ways of resuming the 2019-20 season” and completing all domestic and European matches “as soon as it is safe and possible to do so”.
Another headache for UEFA is the Champions League and the Europa League. UEFA have stated a desire to complete these tournaments but have accepted it may not be possible using the current format. Proposals being considered by the governing body include a streamlining of the competition with a plan to stage the semi-finals and final of both competitions in one city over five days later this year.
The Champions League final is usually the last game of the season. However, UEFA is reportedly open for the Champions League final to be held before the end of Europe’s domestic league seasons, which will require more time to be completed.
Another nightmare for clubs and governing bodies is that of player’s contracts. As most contracts run until the end of June, any delay to the season beyond then will cause problems.
The Telegraph newspaper report that they expect a coordinated approach from the FA, Premier League, EFL and PFA. The paper believes that they will allow players and clubs to enter into temporary contracts with the players affected.