No football games in England till 30 April

2020-03-20 at 06:22

English football will be suspended until at least 30 April because of the continued spread of coronavirus.

All games in England’s Premier League, EFL, Women’s Super League and Women’s Championship, and all fixtures in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, are currently postponed.

The Football Association has also agreed that the current season can be “extended indefinitely”.

Under current rules the season had been scheduled to end on 1 June.

A joint statement issued by the FA, Premier League and EFL expressed “a commitment to finding ways of resuming the 2019-20 season” and completing all domestic and European matches “as soon as it is safe and possible to do so”.

Last week, West Ham vice-chair Karren Brady said the current season should be declared null and void.

FA chairman Greg Clarke also expressed his concern that it might prove impossible for the season to be concluded.

However Brighton chief executive Paul Barber told the BBC that it would be “unjust” if runaway leaders Liverpool were denied the title, and suggested increasing the league to 22 teams for 2020-21.

Fifa has also established a working group to tackle the issues facing football as a result of the pandemic. The group will look at the international fixture calendar, and issues around player contracts.

Player contracts typically expire on 30 June but many leagues, if resumed, look likely to continue beyond that date.

The postponement of Euro 2020 has opened up a window for domestic league fixtures to take place in June.

However, the UK government has effectively banned sports events for the time being by advising against mass gatherings.

If that restriction is not lifted, some clubs are understood to be open to playing matches behind closed doors in order to get the season completed.

And, with broadcast rights-holders Sky and BT reportedly entitled to claim a total of £750m in refunds if the campaign does not resume, the Premier League is determined to do everything possible to honour its commercial contracts.

It is not yet clear, however, when the season may start again or finish, and whether it has a knock-on effect on next year’s campaign.