Premier League chief executive Richard Masters has revealed an update on a possible restart to the 2019-20 season in June.
There have been plenty of positive vibes around the Premier League season restart as the UK government announced that sporting events could take place in empty stadiums from June 1 as more details were released on edging out of the current lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.
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However, reports have since suggested that over half of the league do not want to finish the season in neutral stadiums as they are concerned about the integrity of the competition. While the head of the English FA reportedly told clubs that removing relegation and deeming the season ‘null and void’ was not an option as the table should be decided by playing the games or the table ending on a points-per-game basis.
Speaking after a five-hour video conference call with all 20 Premier League clubs on Monday, Masters said that all clubs want to be able to play home and away games rather than at neutral venues as the government have requested.
“Everybody would prefer to play at home and away if at all possible, and it’s clear to see some clubs feel more strongly about that than others. We are in contact with the authorities and listening to that advice, while also representing club views in those discussions,” Masters said. “We are working flat out to create a responsible, safe, and deliverable model to complete the season. No decisions will be made until after we have talked to players and managers and those meetings are scheduled for later this week.”
With social distancing rules still in place, government and local police forces are concerned about fans congregating outside stadiums if their teams are playing and celebrating victories.
The head of the Premier League then revealed that talks are ongoing with the government this week about a restart, as well as players and managers who will air their concerns, as there has been no agreement about when teams are safe to return to training and a training protocol hasn’t been agreed.
“Since COVID became an issue we’ve been talking to the authorities about the conditions in which we could get the Premier League back up and running and taking all that advice on board, but it is an ongoing dialogue. But all must be cognisant of what authorities are telling us, and we’ll continue with that consultation,” Masters added.
Masters admitted that for the first time ending the 2019-20 season had been discussed but the will of all 20 clubs is to play the remaining 92 games of the season. There were no further details about how the season could be curtailed early without playing games but it is expected that a points-per-game average would be used to decide the final table.
“It’s the first time we’ve discussed curtailment. It’s still our aim to finish the season obviously, but it’s important to discuss all of the options with our clubs,” Masters said. “What I can say is that all of the talk was about finishing the season. No conclusions were reached on any other models. Those are future conversations we may need to have. Obviously we won’t be playing until the middle of June. It doesn’t seem quite right to be talking about playing before we’ve taken a decision to return to the first stage of training. But in terms of how those matches will take place there’s a lot of water to pass under the bridge, and we’ll continue to assess the circumstances then.”
Other notes to come from Masters include the fact that player contracts which currently run out on June 30 can be extended until the end of the 2019-20 season (whenever that may be), provided both parties come to an agreement no later than June 23.
He also stated that there was no deadline for these talks to end and the Premier League clubs would continue to work together and with the government to finish the season, while Masters also admitted that clubs will all be taking a big hit in terms of revenue.
“We were able to update our clubs today on our situation with broadcasters, which is obviously confidential,” Masters said. “Whatever happens, there’s going to be significant loss of revenue for clubs. That is inevitable. We were able to paint a picture today about what would happen in various scenarios, playing out the season and not playing out the season, to allow them to have a picture of that as we stand in the early part of May. But in terms of putting an estimate on it, I don’t want to do that today.”