The Premier League and EFL seasons will resume no earlier than April 30, the Football Association has announced.
Representatives of the 20 Premier League teams discussed options in a video conference call as they bid to finish the current campaign, despite coronavirus continuing to spread across the United Kingdom.
Player contracts either expire on June 30 or roll on to the 2020-21 campaign, creating a series of legal issues which the game’s authorities are desperate to avoid if the impact of Covid-19 allows.
UEFA are keen for domestic football to end by that date and there is understood to be a broad consensus among top flight clubs that finishing the season is preferable but an acknowledgement games will be delayed perhaps until the end of April or even later.
There is also an added pressure from UEFA fixing Euro 2020 to June 2021.
That means a late finish to the 2019-20 domestic campaign, were the worst fears over Covid-19 realised, would create a huge headache as to how to fit in a complete 2020-21 season in time for a summer tournament next year.
See FA statement in full
The FA, Premier League, EFL and women’s professional game, together with the PFA and LMA, understand we are in unprecedented times and our thoughts are with everyone affected by Covid-19.
We are united in our commitment to finding ways of resuming the 2019/20 football season and ensuring all domestic and European club league and cup matches are played as soon as it is safe and possible to do so.
We have collectively supported UEFA in postponing EURO 2020 to create space in the calendar to ensure domestic and European club league and cup matches have an increased opportunity to be played and, in doing so, maintain the integrity of each competition.
The FA’s Rules and Regulations state that “the season shall terminate not later than the 1 June” and “each competition shall, within the limit laid down by The FA, determine the length of its own playing season”.
However, The FA’s Board has agreed for this limit to be extended indefinitely for the 2019/20 season in relation to Professional Football. Additionally, we have collectively agreed that the professional game in England will be further postponed until no earlier than 30 April.
The progress of Covid-19 remains unclear and we can reassure everyone the health and welfare of players, staff and supporters are our priority. We will continue to follow Government advice and work collaboratively to keep the situation under review and explore all options available to find ways of resuming the season when the conditions allow.
We would all like to re-emphasise that our thoughts are with everyone affected by Covid-19.