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Premier League to restart ‘when safe,’ will financially assist lower league clubs

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The Premier League issued a statement Friday morning confirming the league has suspended play indefinitely, returning to action “only…when it is safe and appropriate to do so.”

The statement comes in the wake of a meeting between Premier League leadership and all 20 clubs to discuss various points of interest during the coronavirus shutdown. A date for return has not yet been set, with the league saying amid a fluid situation, “the restart date is under constant review with all stakeholders, as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic develops and we work together through this very challenging time.”

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

“The Premier League is working closely with the whole of professional football in this country, as well as with the Government, public agencies and other relevant stakeholders to ensure the game achieves a collaborative solution. With this, there is a combined objective for all remaining domestic league and cup matches to be played, enabling us to maintain the integrity of each competition. However, any return to play will only be with the full support of Government and when medical guidance allows.”

The league also confirmed it will financially assist lower league clubs during the shutdown, committing $153 million towards that will “immediately deal with the impact of falling cash flow.”

“The League unanimously voted to advance funds…to the EFL and National League as it is aware of the severe difficulties clubs throughout the football pyramid are suffering at this time,” the statement read.

The Premier League also announced $24.5 million of aid would be sent to the National Health Service that would go “to support the NHS, communities, families and vulnerable groups during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“The League, clubs, players and managers express huge appreciation for the heroic efforts of NHS staff and all other key workers who are carrying out critical jobs in such difficult circumstances,” the statement read.

Finally, the Premier League announced it will enter into discussions with players about the possibility of “conditional reductions and deferrals amounting to 30 per cent of total annual remuneration.” The league announced it will meet tomorrow to discuss the matter further.

What’s up for lower leagues in the United States this summer?

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If you’ve played, coached, or watched soccer in the United States over the past couple of decades, there’s a good chance John Motta had a hand in your competition.

As president of the United States Adult Soccer Association, he’s also being trusted to make wise decisions on when you might be able to get back on a field in a world suffering through the coronavirus pandemic.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Motta also serves on the U.S. Soccer Federation’s board of directors as the chairman of the adult council, and is also navigating a tricky time as the owner of 30 Dunkin’ Donuts franchises.

We thought now would be as good a time as ever to ask Motta what’s up next for soccer in the United States.

ProSoccerTalk: John thanks for your time. Can you fill our readers in on the USASA and your role within it and soccer in America?

John Motta: “We start from your NPSLs and UPSLs which are the higher premier leagues, the women’s premier leagues, all the way down to the local club leagues in your town and the over-the-hill leagues. Our motto is, ‘We’re the game for life.’ I kinda oversee the board which directs all the policy. I’m also the chairman of the adult council, which is one of the four councils of the U.S. Soccer Federation. I serve on the Board of Directors of U.S. Soccer, representing the amateur players and amateur soccer in this country. It’s interesting, especially with everything going on with the federation now. It keeps me busy.”

PST: Now is an insane time for all of us, let alone trying to plan for how soccer’s going to look once it’s safe to get back out there. There’s no good time for a pandemic, obviously, but right before summer is a sincerely daunting challenge in timing. Where is the USASA in the forecasting and decision-making process?

JM: “We’ve got a U.S. Adult Soccer call next Wednesday and we’re gonna evaluate all our programs for the whole year. We had a historic event that was gonna happen in May: The champions of US adult soccer, which was Newtown Pride, were gonna play the UEFA Regions’ Cup champions from Poland (Dolny Śląsk). We already had to cancel that because of travel restrictions. This was gonna be the first time U.S. Soccer and UEFA combined to have an international event. We were psyched, but now we have to wait another year.

“Also the HankSteinbrecher Cup, which was gonna be played in late May. That’s not looking good, only because I don’t see this blowing over that quickly. I hope it does. Being that it’s two months away, it’s hard to keep it on the schedule but we might be able to wait longer because all the clubs are in busing distance. And the soccer festival, our biggest event, from open divisions to Over 75s, was gonna be held in California this year. Even though it’s scheduled in July, we may still wait until May 1. I don’t see us canceling that until at least a month from now.

[ MORE: USL League Two plans to play ]

“And the USASA National Amateur Cup, which has grown in popularity because of the automatic berth in the Open Cup, the Steinbrecher Cup, and $15,000 in prizes. That usually happens in August with the elimination rounds happening now, which obviously they are not. Maybe we push that final in October to give all the teams in the states the opportunity to hold their qualifiers. That’s what I’m going to recommend to the board on Wednesday. I think they’ll agree, hopefully they’ll agree. When this is over everybody’s gonna wanna do something, anxious to play soccer and watch games. Postponing everything (for a year) is not good idea right now.”

PST: How about all the local leagues that carry so much weight in their communities? New York City and Maryland have institutions. I know the league in my home town of Buffalo (the BDSL) is a monstrous part of summer here with many divisions and promotional/relegation. What advice would give players wondering what their summer holds?

JM: “We definitely contacted our insurance provider to give us some guidance. It takes one incident, let’s say a player is playing and catches it, claims he caught up from playing soccer and passes away. That’s a tragedy and a huge lawsuit, right? That’s why we postponed all activities until April 30. In a couple of weeks, we will have to get together and maybe again extend that. But we’ve told our members if they go out and play, they are on their own because our insurance company wasn’t going to cover anything for the month of April.”

PST: As a soccer lover, how do you feel at an emotional level, watching leagues contemplate their summers and clubs contemplate their present and futures?

JM: “I’ll be honest: In the 1990s I owned a Division 3 professional team, the New Hampshire Phantoms. I think they still exist today in the USL amateur league. As a former owner of a team, you rely on games and your sponsors rely on your playing. I know the difficulties of running teams in the NPSL, even the UPSL. Even though they aren’t classified as professional, they run their teams in a professional manner. I’m saying to myself, Wow, here are these owners that put all this capital up front to run these teams and now they are just doing nothing. I own Dunkin’ Donuts shops, luckily they are open cause it’s called an essential business but I can imagine what it would be like if I have to close all my doors. How will I survive? There’s no difference with lower league soccer clubs. Hopefully they will survive. Every day that goes by it just kills me because I know they want to get on the field and this damn virus is keeping us all locked up.

PST: What else should people know about the USASA right now?

JM: “They should know that we’re doing everything we can. I gotta call from (a professional league) the other day to talk about the possibility of a combined event or schedule, and we are in the process of contacting our insurance company. I’ll jump over a mountain to play soccer, so hopefully we can get something done this summer once this is over.”

Ex-Newcastle winger Solano detained for breaking coronavirus curfew

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Former Newcastle, Aston Villa and West Ham winger Nolberto Solano was briefly detained by police in Peru after breaking the nation’s coronavirus curfew.

Solano told Peruvian national radio station RPP that he was invited to a friend’s home for a meal and it went on longer than expected.

 [ MORE: Premier League schedule

“Those who know me know that I have tried to handle myself in the best way,” Solano said. “I went to a lunch and end up in a situation like the one at night that was not a party, it was just a meeting, a lunch that I was invited by a friend who we always visited. Obviously I am very sorry for all this and I apologize for the case.

“I am not going to justify it, the whole country is in the same situation, one puts oneself in the shoes of people who must live day by day, it is very hard for them, but the most important thing is, health, without that we can not do anything.”

Peru’s government on March 18 announced a curfew from 8:00 p.m. local to 5:00 a.m. local to cut down on the spread of the coronavirus.

Solano is currently an assistant coach for Peru, working with head coach Ricardo Gareca. Solano earned 95 caps for Peru, though he was not able to lead them to the World Cup despite his talent and speed along the wing.

The 45-year-old came up with Peruvian club Sporting Cristal and later played for Boca Juniors before getting snapped up by Newcastle. Solano played eight seasons with Newcastle, wowing the crowds with his athleticism between 1998-2004 and again from 2005-2007. Solano played all over England, featuring for Aston Villa, West Ham, Leicester City, Hull City, and Hartlepool United. Since his playing days, Solano served short spells as a manager, first for Peruvian giant Universitario and then for Jose Galvez. Randomly, he coached a Canadian semi-pro team for a few months in 2014 before it lost its license.

Overall, Solano played 302 Premier League games with 49 goals and 62 assists.

What we love about Newcastle

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This week at ProSoccerTalk we will be detailing what we love about each Premier League club competing in the 2019-20 season and next up is Newcastle.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Each day we will release details on why who adore each team in particular as we remind ourselves just how awesome the PL is as we await its return following the suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Time to take a closer look at the Magpies.


Alan Shearer: Internationally, Shearer is clearly the most recognizable player associated with the Newcastle United name and brand. Growing up just a couple of miles from St. James Park, Shearer returned to his home in a big-money transfer from Blackburn Rovers in 1996 and starred for his hometown club for the next decade. Including his time with Southampton, where he first went professional, and Blackburn Rovers, where he won a Premier League title, Shearer scored 260 league goals and 64 assists in 441 matches. Shearer retired in 2006 with more than 400 matches played for Newcastle, and more than 200 goals, and numerous records. His 260 league goals are by far the most of any Premier League player and his 206 goals for Newcastle is also a club record mark.

Newcastle United’s Alan Shearer celebrates his goal in front of the fans (Photo by Owen Humphreys – PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)

Shearer, who has since gone on to manage the club briefly and move into television punditry on BBC’s Match of the Day, was honored with a bronze statue outside of the ground. It features the former England international in his oft-seen goal celebration, running towards the fans with his pointer finger held aloft in the sky.

DeAndre Yedlin: Just the second American-born player to play for the Toon (after Oguchi Onyewu had a loan spell in 2007), Newcastle took a chance on a young, speedy winger who was coming off a loan in 2015-2016 at arch rivals Sunderland. While things haven’t always been rosy and sunny at Newcastle for Yedlin, he’s clearly improved on the defensive and tactical side of the game, and it’s shown in U.S. Men’s National Team matches when he’s returned and been fit to play.

To date, Yedlin has made 125 league appearances for the Magpies. He’s also scored five goals, including this beauty last fall.

Miguel Almiron: Other than scoring boatloads of goals, like Alan Shearer did in his heyday, there’s nothing Newcastle fans love more than a hard-working player who happens to also possess incredible technical gifts as well. Enter Miguel Almiron. Although the Paraguayan international has struggled with his end-product, his lightning-fast runs down the channels have excited Newcastle fans since he joined the club in February 2019.

No matter what happens this season or in the future, Newcastle fans will always have his FA Cup double against West Bromwich Albion early in March.

St. James Park faithful: Through all the ups and downs, you can just about always count on the Newcastle fans showing up to support their team. Newcastle fans are considered among the most passionate around the globe, and it’s been quite a while since the club was contending for Champions League places. They’ve also had their fair share of hopes dashed, and have had to deal twice with relegation in the last 15 years. But they still fill up the 52,000-plus seat capacity at the beautifully-redesigned St. James Park.

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND – APRIL 20: Newcastle United fans display anti-racism banners during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Southampton FC at St. James Park on April 20, 2019 in Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

How will suspension of season change PL stars’ injury timetables?

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If the Premier League is able to resume and complete the 2019-20 season, a number of clubs will benefit from time off due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic with regards to players currently recovering from long-term injuries.

[ MORE: Friday’s transfer rumor roundup | Thursday | Wednesday ]

Players previously expected to miss the rest, or the majority, of the season will suddenly have a new lease on the current campaign with nine or 10 games left to play. Simply put, a few clubs in relegation battles and top-four top-five chases could see their fortunes completely changed. Clubs not discussed either had relatively clean bills of health, or were already expected to return key players in short order.

Tottenham Hotspur

No club will receive a bigger boost if/when the PL resumes. Harry Kane and Son Heung-min went down with potentially season-ending injuries four weeks apart at the start of 2020. With both of his goal-scoring stars unavailable, Jose Mourinho’s side took just one point from three games before the season was suspended. Both Kane and Son had an outside shot at returning for the final game or two of the season, according to Mourinho, which would have them returning in early May. Now, an early May return could see them play all nine games with Tottenham currently four points back of fifth-place Manchester United. The same goes for January signing Steven Bergwijn, who is recovering from a “significant” ankle sprain and was previously in danger of missing the rest of the season. Moussa Sissoko will also return if/when play resumes; he was previously slated to miss an additional two or three weeks while recovering from a knee injury.

Arsenal

Lucas Torreira suffered a fractured ankle on March 2 and was subsequently expected to miss the remainder of the season, but the Gunners’ most influential and consistent midfield performer will have every chance to return for a handful of games if/when the season resumes. Sead Kolasinac was previously meant to return to training in early April after a “significant” shoulder injury in late February; he would have then been available for the final four or five games, but will now almost certainly be available at season’s restart. Cedric Soares, who arrived from Southampton with a pre-existing knee injury in January, will also see additional availability this season. Arsenal currently sit five points back of fifth place, with a game in hand.

Manchester City

With Liverpool having essentially wrapped the title up, Man City stand to benefit more in their quest to win the Champions League where they lead Real Madrid 2-1 ahead of the second leg at the Etihad Stadium. Aymeric Laporte wasn’t previously expected back until after the March international break, which was scheduled to occur two weeks after the second leg. Leroy Sane is also very close to making his return and season debut after tearing his ACL in the Community Shield.

Manchester United

Marcus Rashford (back) – late April; Paul Pogba (ankle) – early April;

Newcastle United

Martin Dubravka (knee) – potentially out remainder of season; Paul Dummett (hamstring) – potentially out remainder of season; Ciaran Clark (ankle) – potentially out remainder of season; Andy Carroll (groin) – early May; Jetro Willems (knee) – previously out remainder of season

Aston Villa

Wesley (knee) – previously out remainder of season; Tom Heaton (knee) – previously out remainder of season; John McGinn (ankle) – on the verge of returning after four months out.