At first the Premier League looked like they wanted to push through the global epidemic and play on for as long as possible. But reality finally set it once its own coaches, players, and staff were being impacted, causing the initial delay of the league. On Thursday, the FA, Premier League, EFL, women’s professional game, PFA and LMA confirmed two new updates in a joint press release.
First, leagues will suspended until at least April 30. In accordance with government, and national and global health experts, continuing to halt operations and limit social interaction is in the best interest of the individuals at each club, their fans, and the general public. That means Friday, May 1st would be the earliest date the Premier League could return - even then training, schedules, travel, etc. would need to be sorted out.
Second, and maybe the bigger announcement, is their decision to extended the current seasons indefinitely. Thus, even if the public were not able to resume normal activities until the fall, the Premier League would continue the 2019-20 season at that point, even at the potential loss of the 2020-21 season. There is a certain containment-ness of that idea, to finish and have clean cut decisions on champions, promotion, relegation, European spots, and Cup winners. But that would cause issues if, like the close of the transfer window, England was out of sorts with the rest of European football.
There is no easy solution, nor when any idea solution could even be put in place. The group’s full press release can be read below:
In the wake of the outbreak of coronavirus, please find below the latest news on how it relates to the Premier League and its clubs.
First and foremost, we understand we are in unprecedented times and our thoughts are with everyone affected by COVID-19.
The FA, Premier League, EFL and women’s professional game, together with the PFA and LMA, share a united commitment to finding ways of resuming the 2019/20 football season and ensuring all domestic and European club league and cup matches are played as soon as it is safe and possible to do so.
Therefore The FA’s Board has agreed for the date limit to be extended indefinitely for the 2019/20 season in relation to Professional Football. Additionally, we have collectively agreed that the professional game in England will be further postponed until no earlier than 30 April.
The progress of COVID-19 remains unclear and we can reassure everyone the health and welfare of players, staff and supporters are our priority. We will continue to follow Government advice and work collaboratively to keep the situation under review and explore all options available to find ways of resuming the season when the conditions allow.
We would all like to re-emphasise that our thoughts are with everyone affected by COVID-19.
With that declaration to complete the league, regardless of timeline, introduces a whole host of potential issues. How would players whose contracts expire on June 30th respond to short extensions that may jeopardize their futures if injured during the continuation? How would the summer transfer window be impacted? What would happen to the start of the 2020-21 seasons in England?
A lot of what ifs, but nothing can be known or planned for until the globe gets a handle on the COVID-19 pandemic.