In Brief

Premier League has ‘ambitious’ plan to resume season in May

English top flight is under pressure to make a decision due to financial concerns and broadcast deals

The English Premier League could restart as early as May in order to finish the season by 12 July. 

In what it bills as an “exclusive”, the Daily Mail says that the EPL bosses have drawn up an “ambitious plan to restart the season behind closed doors on the first weekend of May”.

Their proposal will be examined in detail during a conference call of the 20 clubs on Friday.

Ultimately, however, it won’t be the Premier League that calls the shots but the government, who will take advice from public health bodies. 

Given that the deputy chief medical officer warned on Sunday that it could be six months before the country is back to normal after the coronavirus crisis, the hopes of a May restart could turn out to be premature.

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Financial pressure

The Mail says that the Premier League is desperate to resume action otherwise it will face a financial meltdown. 

According to the paper, broadcasting contracts stipulate that the cut-off point to finish this season is 16 July. If the campaign is not completed by that date, then “Sky Sports, BT Sport and the international rights-holders could demand rebates totalling as much as £762m”. 

If clubs were forced to repay that money it would leave many struggling to pay their players’ wages, and the Mail says that the bigger clubs would suffer the greatest financial losses because the terms of the overseas television deal means that more money is distributed to the clubs at the top of the table.

The broadcasters are apparently putting pressure on the Premier League to make a decision so that everyone knows where they stand. 

In recent days there have been “informal talks” between clubs and the consensus is that the season could be completed by 12 July were matches to resume at the start of May.

No relegation?

Another controversial proposal that will be discussed at Friday’s meeting is whether the season, if it does resume in May, should be completed without relegation “on the grounds that the integrity of the competition is threatened”. 

There is growing doubt whether the Championship will be concluded this season and that would obviously impact the clubs in the relegation zone. 

But the Mail says that the clubs at the top of the Championship are allegedly “making preparations to take legal action if they are denied promotion”. However, if their competition is abandoned it would be unlikely that they would win a legal battle.

Another obstacle that could thwart the Premier League’s ambition to resume matches is the willingness of the players as many are not insured for coronavirus as it is not listed as a critical illness. 

Today’s back pages

‘Covidiot’ Jack Grealish is fined by Aston Villa

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