Coronavirus: Premier League clubs committed to completing season

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Finishing the season in a 40-day window was one of the scenarios discussed at a Premier League meeting on Friday.

Top-flight clubs remain committed to playing all 92 remaining fixtures this season but did not discuss a deadline by which action must resume. Clubs were expected to debate a 30 June deadline to end the season but instead discussed “possible scheduling models”.

The Premier League said it “remains our objective” to complete matches but currently “all dates are tentative”.

The league has been suspended since March 13 because of coronavirus.

It is understood some clubs expected to discuss the proposed 30 June deadline at Friday’s meeting but it was decided this was not the right time to do so.

Sixteen of the 20 Premier League teams have nine games to play, with four having 10 left.

Earlier this month the Premier League said play will only resume when “it is safe and appropriate to do so”. The number of coronavirus-related deaths in the UK has since risen to more than 12,000.

On Thursday, the government issued a further three-week lockdown to ensure social distancing and manage the spread of the virus.

BBC sports editor Dan Roan has learned Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden spoke to Premier League bosses this week and signalled the government was content for them to start contingency planning.

But nothing will be taken forward without the green light from the government, in accordance with medical advice.

In a section on player welfare at the meeting, it was decided tests for coronavirus would have to be widely available to the public before the widespread testing of players.

When and how football resumes has been widely debated across the sport as clubs face up to financial difficulties and the logistical issues caused by a late finish to the season.

The contracts of numerous players expire on 30 June, including those of Chelsea midfielder Willian and Tottenham defender Jan Vertonghen. If the season is extended beyond that date there is a possibility clubs will lose players before fixtures are concluded.

World governing body Fifa is aware of the problem and is looking at alternatives such as rolling contract extensions.

The 30 June date is also an issue for clubs around agreed changes in kit manufacturers. Liverpool are due to change shirt manufacturers from New Balance to Nike, while Watford and Newcastle are also set to use new suppliers.

Uefa has pleaded for leagues to give them time to return with their own proposals for ending the season across Europe.

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What about other European leagues?

 

The body that represents Europe’s top leagues says when football does return it will “no doubt” be played behind closed doors.

At present, the state of play in the continent’s top leagues is:

Germany’s Bundesliga: Clubs have returned to training but the season is still suspended until April 30.

Spain’s La Liga: There will be no training until emergency measures in place are lifted and La Liga president Javier Tebas says resuming play on May 28 is a best-case scenario.

France’s Ligue 1: French football authorities are considering restarting Ligue 1 on 3 or 17 June, with the latter date the more likely, according to sports daily L’Equipe.

Italy’s Serie A: The Italian Football Federation (IFF) hopes to begin testing players for the virus at the start of May, in preparation for the season to resume.

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By BBC News

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