The domestic football league of England, the English Premier League is going to hold a video conference between themselves on Thursday as they start to find a way to complete the already suspended season and also fight against the financial damages caused by the deadly coronavirus or COVID-19 epidemic.
As some clubs are urging the return of the league and matches to be played behind closed doors, there are also talks of cutting off the season or declaring it null or void. On the other hand, there are also motives for the completion of the season."They want to get the games played if that is at all possible," stated a source from football industry.
Last week all elite soccer matches in England, including the Premier League, Football League (EFL) and Women's Super League (WSL), were suspended until April 4. With non-league, youth and amateur football having also subsequently suspended play, the English game is now in a state of total shutdown.
On Tuesday, UEFA opted to postpone the scheduled Euro 2020 tournament by a year, creating a space for the club seasons across the continent to play on during the summer — if the situation with the virus allows. A large question mark remains on when the season can resume but that will not stop clubs and officials from trying to come up with a plan for a best-case scenario.
Across Europe, other leagues are in the same process. The Italian league was saying on Wednesday that it is targeting a possible return in May, with the season running into June and possibly July. The Premier League would likely also aim to for such a completion, allowing them to resolve the issues of promotion and relegation and European qualification without any wrangles.
EFL clubs will incur heavier losses
It would also ensure they provided their broadcast partners, domestically and internationally, with a full and complete season in line with their contracts. Player contracts, some of which end in June, could be an issue although world governing body FIFA has said it is looking into possible 'dispensations'.
The problems facing Premier League clubs, who are among the rich elite of the world game, are minor compared to those facing lower division England Football League teams. They now face cash-flow problems with no ticket revenue. On Wednesday, the EFL, representing the three divisions below the Premier League, said it is aiming to complete the current season and has put in place a 50 million pound ($57.92 million) fund to help with the impact of the coronavirus on clubs.
"Premier League clubs should be able sustain the drop in match-day revenue the but impact will be felt at the bottom end," said football finance expert Rob Wilson of Sheffield Hallam University. "For those clubs, 20 percent of which are very hand-to-mouth, playing behind closed-doors would be really damaging".
(With agency inputs)