Football

English Premier League extends shutdown with end-date left open

English football's suspension will be extended until April 30 at least, due to the coronavirus crisis, but the current season can be extended indefinitely, the English game's governing bodies said in a joint statement last night.

The Football Association (FA), Premier League (EPL), English Football League (EFL) and women's professional game bodies, along with players and managers' associations, agreed to extend the formal end-date for the 2019/2020 season in a bid to complete the campaign.

"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," the organisations said following a video conference yesterday.

Last week, all elite football matches in England, including the EPL, EFL and Women's Super League, were suspended until April 4.

With non-league, youth and amateur football having also subsequently suspended play, the English game is in a state of total shutdown.

European football's governing body Uefa agreed on Tuesday to postpone Euro 2020 for a year, clearing space in the calendar for domestic competitions to finish - if the public health situation allows.

FA rules say the season should end by June 1, but the decision was taken to extend that into the summer.

"The progress of Covid-19 remains unclear and we can reassure everyone the health and welfare of players, staff and supporters are our priority," the joint statement said.

"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."

Bournemouth captain Simon Francis responded to the news, telling Sky Sports: "I think we all saw that coming, April 4 seemed far too early...

"It's become a waiting game to see if we have to push it back again.

"Glad to see that the higher powers want to see the season finished. I think that is a must for everybody involved, whether it's Liverpool winning the title - they don't want to be crowned champions now in front of no fans.

"Football has to resume this season, there are too many knock-on effects." - REUTERS

Football