On Friday the Premier League, EFL and Professional Footballers’ Association held a meeting about the future of the 2019/20 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The main message coming out of the meeting was that there are ‘difficult decisions’ ahead shortly. They will reconvene next week to discuss possible options and make what could be some massive decisions.
Return of football in England delayed
The three footballing governing bodies have not changed the expected date of the return of professional football in England. The meeting revealed that football will return on 30th April at the earliest. This has not changed. However, it was recently reported that the Premier League are hoping to restart in early June. This was an educated estimate, as it is difficult to know how the coronavirus will spread and it has not yet reached its peak in the UK. It seems that things will only get worse before they get better.
The FA has decided to null and void campaign
There have been many discussions about whether the top-four leagues in the English game could conclude season 2019/20. However, it seems the English FA have decided to null and void the leagues below the National League North and South. This also applies to the women’s game, with the leagues lower than the Championship seeing results expunged from the record books.
However, this decision has been questioned by some and there is already talk of rescinding the decision. With some in the lower leagues even threatening legal action. The situation is a delicate one, as following the same route higher up the football pyramid would have major ramifications, both sporting and financial.
It would be a brave and complicated choice to expunge the results in the top-four leagues this season. It would certainly raise even more legal issues than it has done lower than the football pyramid.
Doubts over the 2019/20 finishing real
Despite the complications over cancelling the rest of the 2019/20 season, there is a very real possibility that could be the case. However, the remaining issues would be decided would be up to the governing bodies. The UK is currently 2-3 weeks behind Italy, which is the worse infected country in Europe when it comes to the deadly virus. However, the country only entered virtual lockdown on Monday. There is still at least two more weeks of lockdown to come. That time may be extended, depending on the spread of the virus and citizens behaviour.
The stark reality is that it could be months before the UK, and in turn, football can return to anything close to normality. Footballers are only human beings and would also need time to return to their normal physical state. It is only one of the potential decisions that the respective governing bodies of the English games will have to take. However, it would be one of the biggest they have had to make in the modern era of football.
They are not alone though, as football governing bodies all over the world wrestle with what is an unprecedented situation. It is no fault their own but is likely to cost many football clubs dearly, maybe more than just financially.
Will the top-four English leagues complete season 2019/20?