Football

English Premier League targeting June return: Report

The English Premier League is tentatively targeting a resumption on June 1 with a view to completing the season over six weeks before making an August start to the 2020/21 campaign, the Sunday Telegraph reported yesterday.

The report said the sketchy plan was a "best-case scenario" aimed at mitigating the heavy losses clubs are sustaining as they continue to pay wages while football remains shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic.

However, The Sun reported that some EPL players, including England internationals have voiced their concerns over the lack of a proper break between seasons.

The tabloid said that some Three Lions players have discussed seeking help from their union, the Professional Footballers' Association, to help with the potential glut of fixtures, particularly with Euro 2020 being moved to June 2021.

On March 13, all elite-level football matches in England, including the EPL, were suspended until April 4, with that stoppage subsequently extended until April 30.

The postponement of the Euro 2020 championship for a year, however, has cleared space in the calendar for domestic competitions to finish if the public health situation allows, reported Reuters.

Player contracts, some of which end in June, could be an issue, although world governing body Fifa has said it is looking into possible "dispensations".

Under the plan being considered, The Telegraph said, the EPL and FA Cup competitions would be resumed with matches played behind closed doors.

Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder told The Daily Mail: "At first, I didn't want to play the remaining games behind closed doors but my point of view now is that, if that is what it has to be in order to finish the season, then that is what it has to be.

"There's no compromise in this. We have to finish the season, however long it takes."

The 2020/21 campaign would get underway after a short break on Aug 8, the report said, allowing the league to fulfil its commitments in the second season of three-year broadcast deals worth £9.2 billion (S$15.5b).

Sports lawyer Richard Cramer told The Sun: "All the money football gets, from sponsorship and broadcasting, is in danger of a huge decline.

"When we are through this, it's inevitable there will be an adjusting down... Wages will drop and the ridiculously high contracts players are on will end. Unless normality returns in a month or two, the shape of football... will change forever."

Football