In Brief

Is time running out to finish the Premier League season?

Many clubs want campaign to end by 30 June because of player contracts

The English Premier League will hold a video conference call tomorrow to discuss when, or indeed, if, the 2019-20 season will be completed. 

With nine rounds of matches remaining, Sky Sports reports that time is running out for the Premier League, particularly as an increasing number of clubs want the season concluded by 30 June because of player contracts.

The UK government is expected to extend the coronavirus lockdown until at least the end of this month, and that would make it unlikely that any football is played before the start of June. 

The problem facing the clubs is that while they want to complete the season rather than declare it null and void, dozens of player contracts expire on 30 June.

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Contract conundrum

Sky Sports says after that date “out-of-contract and loan players will be able to walk away from their clubs”, despite the fact that the sport’s governing body, Fifa, has recommended that contracts set to expire could be extended to cover the rest of this season’s domestic campaign.

One Premier League club owner, who wished to remain anonymous, told Sky Sports: “Some clubs want the season to finish by the end of June. How can it be fair for European places and relegation to be decided by depleted squads.”

When football might resume is beyond the powers of the Premier League to decide - that will be up to the government.

What is more certain is that matches will be played behind closed doors. However, there’s also no certainty that any football will be played before next season. 

“The meeting will be about financial survival and if and when we play games or abandon the season,” the club owner said. “Sadly, the season could still be abandoned depending on government rules.”

There was similar despondency from Alberto Colombo, the deputy general secretary of European Leagues, who has described the suspension of football across the continent as a “huge crisis” for the sport.

Impossible question

Germany tentatively suggested last week that the Bundesliga may resume in May, behind closed doors, but Colombo was cautious in his prognosis for when football might resume. 

He told reporters: “It’s impossible to answer the question: ‘When will we be back playing?’ Nobody has these answers. 

“Ultimately, we all know the governments of the countries are the ones in charge for lifting the various restrictions that apply to sport.”

Uefa will meet next week via video link to discuss the situation, but while Colombo said he would love to see the resumption of matches, that was not the paramount concern. 

“There is no doubt that players’ health comes first, and also the health of all those involved in matches - staff of clubs, media, everyone has to be safe,” he said. 

Today’s back pages

Premier League to be given season deadline ‘ultimatum’ from clubs

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