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Premier League working on season extension details

Contracts end on June 30th. The season is expected to extend beyond that date.

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Arsenal Staff at Work at the Emirates Stadium Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

The Premier League will vote on a proposed plan to handle the snafu created by player contracts that expire at the end of June and the near-certainty of any attempt to finish the coronavirus-delayed season extending beyond that date at the next shareholders meeting on Monday, May 11th, according to David Ornstein.

Clubs and players will have until June 23rd to decide their future. Under the plan, a club can offer a “season 2019-20 contract extension,” a new contract (as in, what they would do in a normal season), or can confirm they do not intended to make an offer of any kind. Clubs have additional options for players under 24-years old on expiring contracts. Basically, if the club and the young player cannot reach an agreement, they can move to a week-to-week contract. Players without an extension in place on June 24th will be free to negotiate with other teams.

Arsenal have only one senior player on a contract that expires at the end of June — third-string keeper Matt Macey. If the two sides fail to reach an agreement and if an offer on at least the same terms was rejected, Arsenal could replace him on the senior squad with a player already registered to the team (read: an under-21 player). The same is true for other Premier League clubs who have players who do not sign extensions.

The “contract extensions” run through midnight on the last day of the 2019-20 season, whenever that may be, and are on the same financial terms as the existing contract. There had been discussion of allowing teams to offer players a wage increase to entice them to sign short-term deals, but the clubs felt it would place too much power in the hands of players and agents because players would be able to holdout. As a concession to players concerned about suffering a serious injury while on a short-term deal, the “contract extensions” do allow teams to provide additional/alternative insurance coverage.

Arsenal are more affected by the expiration of loan deals at the end of June. Pablo Mari and Dani Ceballos are set to return to their parent clubs and Cedric Soares will presumably become a free agent. Arsenal also have William Saliba, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Mohamed Elneny, Emile Smith Rowe, Tyrece John-Jules, and Dinos Mavropanos out on expiring loan deals.

The Premier League clubs and the EFL clubs are currently negotiating how to handle loans within the English pyramid. The Premier League clubs want to be able to recall players on loan to protect their value and keep them from injury. Some PL clubs want to be able to re-register returning loanees to play in remaining games. The lower division clubs want an obligation for the parent club to extend loans if the player and club agree.

The article offers no insight into how loans for players from other leagues will be handled. I presume it will be up to the clubs involved to negotiate extensions for the deals.

Looking beyond the completion of this season, I expect Arsenal to sign Mari and Soares to new deals to remain in North London and to let Ceballos return to Real Madrid. Henrikh Mkhitaryan reportedly wants to make his move to Roma permanent. There was a report in Turkey that Mohamed Elneny has been told he can look for a transfer and that a handful of Turkish clubs were interested.

There are also ongoing talks about the details of the transfer window, which is set to open on the last day of the 2019-20 season, whenever that may be. One idea is to open the window before June 30th with an eye to getting the money flowing again and helping clubs weather some of the financial hit caused by the suspension in the season. Under that plan (and all of the other plans), no player would be able to switch teams and play in this season’s matches for a new club. According to The Athletic, the EFL would like to keep the window open through March 2021 to help players find clubs, clubs fill rosters, and move money through the system — FIFA would have to approve that extension.

Premier League clubs are concerned that they could be behind the transfer eight-ball because the continental leagues are likely to finish their seasons before the Premier League plays out its remaining games. The PL and clubs are reportedly communicating with their international counterparts in an attempt to ensure a level transfer playing field. A possible solution is to have a “split” transfer window where Premier League clubs can sign overseas players but not players from other PL teams. Under any solution, teams would not be able to bring in foreign players not on the 2019-20 roster to play in this season’s games, including deals that have already been completed via pre-contract or existing sale agreement.