The shutdown of English football was extended until at least April 30 on Thursday, after the Premier League and the English Football League (EFL) held crisis meetings.
“We collectively agree that the professional game in England will be postponed until Thursday, April 30,” said a joint statement by the English Football Federation, Premier League, EFL, players and officials.
UEFA’s decision to postpone Euro 2020 for 12 months earlier this week could allow games to be completed over the summer, if strict restrictions on travel and mass meetings to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are lifted in time.
The leagues still hope to end the season as soon as the game can be restarted, instead of accepting the current ranking as final or declaring the campaign null and void.
“We are united in our commitment to find ways to resume the 2019-20 football season and ensure that all national and European league and cup matches are played as soon as it is safe and possible,” the statement added.
Even though the game may start in early May, it could mean matches that go beyond the June 30 goal that UEFA agreed to end the season on Tuesday.
The end of June is when many players’ loan contracts and agreements expire.
However, English officials are not putting limits on when the 2019/20 season is due to end.
“Federation rules and regulations state that ‘the season ends before June 1’ and ‘each competition must, within the limit set by the federation, determine the duration of its own season of matches’.
“However, the FA Council agreed that this limit should be extended indefinitely to the 2019/20 season in relation to professional football.”
– Off-season break scrapped? –
One option could see the end of 2019/20 and the beginning of 2020/21 come together without time for an off-season break.
“Players may need to take their summer vacation now before we finish the 19/20 season and enter the 20/21 season without interruption,” Brighton striker Glenn Murray told AFP.
“Everyone loves sports, everyone loves watching football, but I really think the right decision was made to stop it.
“Right now, it’s quite irrelevant, people’s health is first and foremost. Once the crisis is over, we can look at sport and put the Premier League and football leagues back into action.”
The sudden shutdown, however, can have lasting consequences for many lower league clubs, worrying if they can survive the next two months without ticket revenue.
A 50 million pounds short-term aid package was announced by the EFL to help clubs hit on Wednesday.
However, there has so far been no bailout from the Premier League to ensure those further down the pyramid survive.