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RESULT: Aston Villa escape relegation in March Madness playoff

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In an alternate, not-at-all-made-up universe where fan voting determines the outcome of the currently suspended 2019-20 Premier League season, #19 Aston Villa escaped relegation by topping #20 Norwich City in the relegation final on Monday.

[ LIVE: March Madness PL hub ] 

Villa rode the equivalent of two early goals, followed by a late insurance tally, to a comfortable victory by taking 68.57 percent of the vote between 1:30 p.m. ET and 3 p.m. ET.

Given that Villa beat Norwich in each of their real-life meeting this season, it’s a fitting result after a pair of upsets in the relegation semifinals earlier on Monday. Villa reached the final by taking 62.14 percent of the vote against #18 Bournemouth, while Norwich edged out #17 Watford with 50.48 percent of the vote.

[ MORE: Former US TV execs indicted on charges of World Cup bribery ]

If you want to see the full game schedule, seedings and bracket, here is the post you need as the tournament will run all week long:

Monday: Relegation semifinals, final
Tuesday: Sweet 16
Wednesday: Elite Eight
Thursday: Final Four
Friday: Championship game

Plus, our own Nick Mendola handicapped the field and here is who he thinks will be the favorites to win it all and which teams you should look out for as dark horses over the next few days. His predictions are wild and Arsenal fans will want to prove he is correct and they pick up a first piece of silverware under Mikel Arteta.

VOTE: Premier League March Madness playoff semifinals

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Our Premier League March Madness 2020 tournament has officially kicked off and here’s an explainer on how you can vote all week long.

Before we get to the Sweet 16 which kicks tips off on Tuesday, we have the small matter of the relegation playoffs which take center stage on Monday.

Two relegation playoff semifinals will take place with #17 Watford hosting #20 Norwich City and #18 Bournemouth hosting #19 Aston Villa for a place in the relegation playoff final.

[ LIVE: March Madness PL hub

What do the winners get? If you win the relegation playoff final you are exempt from relegation, while the runner up and two semifinal losers are relegated.

If you want to see the full game schedule, seedings and bracket, here is the post you need as the tournament will run all week long:

Monday: Relegation semifinals, final
Tuesday: Sweet 16
Wednesday: Elite Eight
Thursday: Final Four
Friday: Championship game

Plus, our own Nick Mendola handicapped the field and here is who he thinks will be the favorites to win it all and which teams you should look out for as dark horses over the next few days. His predictions are wild and Arsenal fans will want to prove he is correct that they will pick up a first piece of silverware under Mikel Arteta.

Okay, vote below (until 12:45 p.m. ET) for the two semifinal winners who will meet in the relegation playoff final later today as our Premier League March Madness tournament begins!

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 we love about Norwich City

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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 it is Norwich City.

[ 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 focus on the Canaries.


Teemu Pukki: Norwich City’s cinderella season in the Premier League is in large part thanks to the heroics and scoring achievements of the Finnish wonder. Pukki scored 30 goals in all competitions last year as Norwich won promotion, and his hard running up top has led to 11 league goals in the Premier League this season. It’s an incredible change for a player who before 2016, only had more than 10 goals in a season once, playing back in Finland with HJK.

Norwich City will likely go down, but not for lack of effort from Pukki and co.

Daniel Farke: The eccentric German manager helped get Norwich City promotion to the Premier League and it seems that even with the club in serious trouble in the relegation zone, the club is sticking by Farke.

Despite playing with a majority of players who helped get the club promoted, Farke has stuck to his guns with an attacking, possession style of play – when not facing the big six – that has certainly been at times great and other times a nightmare. However, all fans have to respect a coach sticking with his or her style and believing that their methods will eventually work out.

Farke may depart at the end of the season, perhaps it’s time for a new challenge. But if not, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him lead Norwich City back into the Premier League, should the Canaries go down as expected.

Norwich City manager Daniel Farke during the Premier League match at Bramall Lane, Sheffield. (Photo by Anthony Devlin/PA Images via Getty Images)

Unique jerseys: Other than some teams away kits, no one else in the Premier League currently has as bright and provocative a uniform as Norwich City. With their bright yellow tops fading into green, the Norwich City brand is certainly recognizable by Premier League fans. The style sets Norwich apart from other clubs, who can fall into the assortment of reds, blues, or claret and blues (West Ham and Aston Villa, anyone?)

The style may adjust over time, but the colors never change. We love it that way.

Norwich City fans: Some English soccer clubs can date their origins back to the 19th century, but how many clubs and their supporters are still singing songs they sang on the terraces in the 1800’s? Just one, that we know of.

For more than 120 years, soccer fans in East Anglia – northeast of London, where Norwich is located, have been singing “On the ball, city” over and over again to support their team. According to Norwich City, it’s thought to be the oldest soccer chant in the world.

Norwich City supporters stay with their club, win or lose, just like this song.

NORWICH, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 15: Norwich City fans wave flags during the Premier League match between Norwich City and Liverpool FC at Carrow Road on February 15, 2020 in Norwich, United Kingdom. (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

Latest PL update following meeting with EFL, PFA

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The Premier League, English Football League and Professional Footballers’s Association released a joint-statement following a meeting between the three sides held on Friday.

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

Notably, it was revealed that the four leagues in question — the PL and three Football League competitions — will not resume until April 30 at the earliest. The goal of the meeting was to “mitigate the economic impact of the current suspension of professional football in England” and set in place a plan for how the leagues, which feed clubs to one another through promotion and relegation, can remain in lockstep as they transition from one season to the next.

The full statement can be read below:

The Premier League, EFL and PFA met today and discussed the growing seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It was stressed that the thoughts of all three organizations continue to be with everyone affected by the virus.

The Premier League, EFL and PFA agreed that difficult decisions will have to be taken in order to mitigate the economic impact of the current suspension of professional football in England and agreed to work together to arrive at shared solutions.

The leagues will not recommence until April 30 at the earliest. They will only do so when it is safe and conditions allow.

Further meetings will take place next week with a view to formulating a joint plan to deal with the difficult circumstances facing the leagues, their clubs, players, staff and fans.