Premier League set for indefinite suspension
The English Premier League and English Football League (EFL) have announced that their respective competitions will be indefinitely suspended until it is safe to resume play, amid the ongoing novel coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis.
Both the Premier League and EFL competitions have not staged any games since 10 March and though initial plans aimed for play to resume from today (3 April), this was then pushed back to 30 April.
However, with the UK seeing an ongoing rise in cases of coronavirus and related deaths, both organisations have agreed to keep their competitions suspended and only return “when it is safe and appropriate to do so”.
The Premier League and EFL reached the decision in consensus with the English Football Association, the Women’s Super League and Women’s Championship. In addition, the FA Cup will remain postponed for the foreseeable future.
“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,” the Premier League said.
“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 EFL also said: “Football is committed in supporting the government’s efforts in tackling the Covid-19 outbreak and the staging of football matches in this country. It is clearly something that simply cannot happen at this time.
“The situation will be kept under constant review with matches only returning at an appropriate point and based on the latest guidance provided by the relevant government departments and health authorities.”
Meanwhile, the Premier League has announced a number of measures to support the government and authorities with their efforts to combat the coronavirus.
First, all 20 Premier League clubs agreed to consult with their players about a combination of conditional reductions and deferrals, amounting to a 30% reduction in wages.
Measures will also be put in place to offer financial relief for clubs, with the Premier League to make £125m available to the EFL and National League – the competition below League 2 – to support clubs across the leagues.
Meanwhile, in consultation with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, the Premier League will immediately commit £20m to support the UK’s National Health Service (NHS), communities, families and vulnerable groups during the pandemic.
This will include a direct financial contribution to the NHS and funds to enable clubs to refocus their efforts and develop outreach programmes to help local communities.
Premier League clubs will continue with their community efforts via targeted activity including donations to foodbanks, telephone calls to the elderly, food parcels delivered to the vulnerable and a range of free resources to support wellbeing and education.
In addition, the Premier League will work with the Department of Health and Social Care, Public Health England and the NHS so that clubs can use their official channels to promote important public health messages to fans.