With the resumption of the Premier
League put back to at least the end of April, further doubt has been
cast over when the 2019/20 season will be concluded.
and officials met on Thursday to discuss plans for the remainder of the
season following the coronavirus outbreak, and it was announced that
professional football in England will not resume until April 30 at the
The governing bodies had originally agreed a
suspension last Friday until early April 4, but with the progress of
COVID-19 remaining unclear, the health and welfare of players, staff and
supporters has been made the top priority.
What would be the best-case scenario?
With so many unknowns, let us attempt to plot how the season can be concluded based on the revised resumption of April 30.
would mean Gameweeks 36 to 38 would remain in their current positions
in the calendar. For many Premier League clubs, that would mean only six
games that need rearranging between Monday May 3 and June 30.
When could the six games be made up?
of the 20 Premier League clubs have just nine games to play in all
competitions: Liverpool, Tottenham, Burnley, Crystal Palace, Everton,
Southampton, Brighton, West Ham, Watford, Bournemouth.
Remaining fixtures for Premier League clubs in 2019/20
Villa have 10 more fixtures to fulfil, including their game in hand
against Sheffield United. The Blades are one of eight Premier League
clubs still in the FA Cup, meaning there will naturally be further
postponements should that competition be played out within the current
allocated windows as agreed at the start of the season.
City have by far the most congested schedule. Provided they progress to
the Champions League and FA Cup finals, they could have as many as 19
games to play between now and the end of the campaign.
decision on Tuesday to postpone Euro 2020 until the summer of 2021 was
with a commitment to complete European leagues and UEFA competitions by
June 30 – and this could lead to one-legged ties across both the Europa
League and the Champions League.
Including the two previous postponed rounds of Premier League fixtures, six Gameweeks need to be re-arranged.
those clubs, both not in European competition and not due to face
either City or Wolves, five midweek fixtures would extend the Premier
League season until early June in theory.
So when can we expect the Premier League to resume?
return of domestic action at the end of April still appears ambitious.
All plans are subject to change given continued uncertainty around the
coronavirus pandemic, and all decisions will fundamentally be driven by
The likelihood is that will change once more
in a couple of weeks, while European football would like to have all of
its commitments fulfilled by the end of June.
June 30, remains flexible, particularly if the FIFA working group decide
to relax the rules on player contracts and registrations,” added
Sky Sports News’ chief reporter Swanson.
“This is still a
fluid environment with plenty of opinions and ideas. Clubs are going to
continue talks next week but public health has and will always be the
Why 30 June?
This date is significant for a number of reasons.
contracts tend to run to this point. Players have been able to sign
pre-contract terms with clubs in other countries since 1 January.
Even if “normal” transfers are done before then, most do not become active until 1 July.
extension to the season beyond the end of June would require a change
to the rules. World players’ union FIFPro has spoken to Fifa about the
practicalities of this, with a blanket
extension of a couple of months being suggested. This is possible. But it would be far easier not to have to implement it.
It is not just player contracts though. Changes in kit suppliers and sponsors also tend to come into force on 1 July.
may seem fairly straightforward to conclude the sponsor of a kit should
remain the same for an entire season. But what if a promotional
campaign had been set up around a new shirt at the same time as a club
was playing with the old shirt, made by a different company, with a
In the advertising world, where huge amounts are being spent on “maximising the brand”, these things matter.
factor is that 30 June is viewed as the final date for seasons to
conclude across Europe without having a significant impact on the
With a short break, clubs could have a three-week pre-season and be ready to go again in August.
the circumstances, it is inconceivable any of the big clubs would be
arranging the kind of extensive summer tours that have become the norm,
so, more likely, they would have a couple of friendlies before starting
again. The Premier League’s opening weekend is due to be on 8 August.
feels if the season ends on 30 June, they could squeeze in all the
qualifying rounds for their tournaments before the group stages begin in
So what about the FA Cup?
FA Cup quarter-finals were due to take place between March 21-22, with
the semi-finals on April 18 and April 19. The Wembley showpiece is still
set for May 23, although that too is now likely to change.
completing the league season be made the priority, the three remaining
rounds could be fulfilled once the 38 league fixtures have been
The FA is yet to provide any further detail on
how the cup competition will be played out, but Thursday’s statement
added: “We are united in our commitment to finding ways of resuming the
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.”
When could European competitions be concluded?
United are still battling on three fronts: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side
are in a strong position to advance to the Europa League quarter-finals
having beaten LASK 5-0 away from
home before the suspension, while they have been drawn to face Norwich in the FA Cup quarter-finals.
are still four remaining Champions League last-16 ties to be completed –
including Chelsea’s trip to face Bayern Munich and Manchester City’s
game with Real Madrid at the Etihad – while the quarter-finals were due
to take place in the first two weeks of April.
The semi-final first legs will also now need to be rearranged, having been scheduled to be played on April 28 and 29.
the pandemic has affected all European leagues, and therefore all
European cup competitions, UEFA is looking into ways of ensuring all
nations can avoid cancelling scheduled fixtures.
be a way of condensing both European club competitions. Mini
tournaments to decide the Champions League and Europa League this season
will be options on the table when UEFA convenes on Tuesday.
How are the games likely to resume eventually?
Could many of the games still be played behind closed doors once the Premier League does return?
health will always remain the No 1 priority. Premier League clubs
understand the need to resume games. But they also understand the game
will always remain second to health.
Usually, there is at
least one ambulance at every game, in case of a serious head injury, for
instance. No club will want to put any additional strain on an already
stretched national health service.
Until the pandemic is
contained in England, it seems unreasonable to expect any games to
resume, even with no fans inside stadiums.