Football Association

FA want to finish season, warn of financial disaster

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The chairman of the FA, Greg Clarke, has warned of huge financial problems within the English game amid the coronavirus pandemic and says the FA wants to finish the season, if they can.

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Clarke issued an open letter after days of criticism across the English game as Premier League clubs have been criticized for applying for the UK government’s furlough scheme which will pay staff 80 percent of their current wages.

Liverpool issued an apology and reversed their decision to furlough 200 staff members, while players have revealed various views on whether or not the 2019-20 season should be finished or deemed null and void.

“We are committed to finishing the professional football season as this resolves the issues of promotion and relegation together with title winners on merit. However, we may not be able to finish the season as football is not our priority, human life is, and we will do as the Government directs as the pandemic unfolds,” Clarke explained.

The head of the English FA admitting that they may not be able to finish the season is a big statement, as previously the stance of everyone involved in the pro game in England has been that the season should be completed.

As for the road ahead, nobody knows the long-term impact it will have and how long it will take for things to get back to normal. With revenue streams disappearing overnight, clubs and leagues are scrambling and several clubs in the lower tiers of English soccer are in serious danger and are taking advantage of the UK government’s furloughing scheme.

“Football faces economic challenges beyond the wildest imagination of those who run it. The pandemic will be followed by its economic consequences and all business sectors will suffer. We face the danger of losing clubs and leagues as finances collapse,” Clarke said. “Many communities could lose the clubs at their heart with little chance of resurrection. In the face of this unprecedented adversity, all the stakeholders within the game from players, fans, clubs, owners and administrators need to step up and share the pain to keep the game alive.

“Everyone should understand that the Premier League clubs are not immune from the impact of this and whilst they are impacted to different degrees depending on their cost base, the potential overall financial impact is huge. We must have a plan to ensure that English football is not decimated should this season be lost and next season blighted.”

Clarke added: “Time is pressing as football burns through its cash reserves with no sign yet of a resumption of the game.”

With Premier League clubs and players trying to help out their local communities wherever they can, the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) are currently locked in talks with players, leagues and other stakeholders as to how players can take pay cuts to help the effort in the UK.

The situation is very clear. Aside from the super clubs in the Premier League, the vast majority of professional clubs in England will be pushed to its limits to survive financially amid the coronavirus pandemic. Reports suggest that many clubs have less than three months worth of cash in reserve to keep them going and tough decisions will need to be made to cut costs in the coming weeks.

Reaction to extended Premier League suspension

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The news of the extended suspension to the 2019-20 Premier League season until at least April 30 is the big talking point on Thursday as the league season in England has been ‘extended indefinitely’ past June 1.

Following a meeting of Premier League clubs who were assessing the best path forward due to the coronavirus pandemic, it was agreed that the main aim is to finish the current campaigns across English football.

Key figures have been responding to the statement released by the Premier League, Football Association, the English Football League and the women’s professional game in the UK.

Arsenal have said they are “fully supportive of this decision which was endorsed at Thursday morning’s Premier League shareholder meeting. Of course, we all want to be back playing football as soon as we possibly can, but only when it is safe to be doing so.”

Here’s what people are saying about the Premier League suspension and the new dates which could well change in the coming weeks:



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Premier League suspended until April 30; ‘extended indefinitely’

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The 2019-20 Premier League season has been postponed until April 30 at the earliest but all parties involved have agreed that the current campaign should be ‘extended indefinitely.’

After a conference call meeting between Premier League clubs on Thursday about the best course of action to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, a statement was released in conjunction with the English FA, the English Football League and the women’s professional game in the UK.

Previously the Premier League season was due to begin again on April 3 but due to the coronavirus pandemic escalating in the UK in recent days, the decision has been taken that no games will be played until the end of April and that the season will be extended as long as possible.

Below is that statement in full from the Premier League:

English professional football bodies’ thoughts are with all affected by COVID-19 and are united in finding ways to resume 2019/20 season as soon as it is safe. The FA, Premier League, EFL and women’s professional game, together with the PFA and LMA, understand we are in unprecedented times and our thoughts are with everyone affected by COVID-19. 

We are united in our commitment to finding ways of resuming the 2019/20 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. We have collectively supported UEFA in postponing EURO 2020 to create space in the calendar to ensure domestic and European club league and cup matches have an increased opportunity to be played and, in doing so, maintain the integrity of each competition.

The FA’s Rules and Regulations state that “the season shall terminate not later than the 1 June” and “each competition shall, within the limit laid down by The FA, determine the length of its own playing season”.

However, The FA’s Board has agreed for this limit to be extended indefinitely for the 2019/20 season in relation to Professional Football. Additionally, we have collectively agreed that the professional game in England will be further postponed until no earlier than 30 April.

The progress of COVID-19 remains unclear and we can reassure everyone the health and welfare of players, staff and supporters are our priority. We will continue to follow Government advice and work collaboratively to keep the situation under review and explore all options available to find ways of resuming the season when the conditions allow.  We would all like to re-emphasise that our thoughts are with everyone affected by COVID-19.

Opposition to Wembley sale ‘bizarre’ and led by ‘old men’

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Greg Dyke sees Shahid Khan’s capsized bid to buy Wembley Stadium as a massive missed opportunity for English soccer, and the former Football Association chairman is quite displeased by the “bizarre” opposition of the “old men” on the FA council.

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With an offer of more than $780 million on the table, Dyke believes that unprecedented — and otherwise impossible — investments could have been made to grassroots soccer that might just create a brighter future for the English game. If only it wasn’t for those meddling kids “the council is living in the past, as it always has done,” as he put it — quotes from the BBC:

“If I’d been chairman, I would have said it is the board’s decision.

“I don’t think the council is equipped to make this decision — that is what the FA board is for.”

Most notably, England is in desperate need of artificial playing fields up and down the country, as well as a tidal wave of newly licensed coaches to begin working at younger and younger age groups.

“The FA has only owned Wembley for 10 to 15 years, before that it was a private business.

“The idea you are going to lose something of value to Britain because it is not owned by the FA is the wrong one compared to spending [$784 million] doing what is desperately needed in this country and that is to spend money on grassroots facilities.

“If you want to have a step change in grassroots facilities in this country, you need this sort of money to be spent.

“It’s bizarre that the old men of the FA Council have stopped this.

“One of the tragedies of English football in recent years is that all the extra money that has come into the Premier League has by and large gone to players or agents, and not to football generally.”

Oftentimes, tradition and history come at the expense of revolution and progression, only to later realize that a golden opportunity has come and gone.

Rodriguez racial abuse charge found “not proven”

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West Brom striker Jay Rodriguez will not face punishment for an alleged racist incident against Brighton and Hove Albion.

The Gulls’ Gaetan Bong claimed that Rodriguez racially abused him during a Jan. 13 match, and Rodriguez was charged by the Football Association.

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Fired manager Alan Pardew reportedly spoke up for Rodriguez at the hearing, after which the charge was found to be “not proven.”

The club released a statement following the verdict, with West Brom director of football administration Richard Garlick saying:

“Everyone at the Club is delighted for Jay because this has been a trying period for him. He has always maintained his innocence and we are naturally pleased the Commission has dismissed the charge.”