English Football Suspended Until April 30 as COVID-19 Continues to Disrupt Lives
English football bosses via conference call on Thursday decided to suspend all professional football until April 30 due to coronavirus.
It seems the bad news just keeps on coming if you’re a football fan and by the same token, online sports betting fan.
In a joint statement issued by the FA, Premier League, and EFL, the apex football bodies acknowledged the impact of the virus on the sport, as it looked to find the right way to finish the 2019-20 professional football season.
A blanket ban for all English leagues
The blanket ban covers all tournaments and matches, including the women’s professional games.
Up until last week, the competitions like the Premier League and English Football League were set to start in early April.
However, with coronavirus quickly tightening its grip in the UK, it was only a matter of time before the leagues were suspended for longer. As things stand, no football will be played in England for at least 40 days, not earlier than April 30.
This suspension certainly makes up for the postponement of the Euro 2020. The decision by the UEFA allows for the European countries to conclude their domestic football seasons, without having to worry about playing in the Euro Cup.
What does it mean for the Premier League?
At the moment, there 9 matchdays to be played for the league to reach its completion.
Should the league start in early May, teams may have eight weeks to clear their fixtures before moving on to the Olympics and the beginning of next season.
Fatigue and fitness will be a concern here.
Granted, it’s pretty tight – but still, doable when push comes to shove.
Liverpool have all but won the Premier League, as the league leaders sit on the top with a 25-point cushion over Manchester City. The real battle, however, lies in the UEFA leagues playoff spots.
The remaining four places for the European Cups are spread across just 12 points. Chelsea and Manchester United are separated by just three points, with Leicester starting to breathe down City’s neck.
Many expect for the season to be completed even if it is with a massive delay. Calling the season null and void is not an option to entertain right now, with Liverpool close to a historic victory.
They just need 2 points to win their first EPL title in 30 years. At the same time, just declaring them winners won’t do justice to their phenomenal performance, as the lads would have at least preferred to finish the league.
The most likely scenario
The most likely scenario is that all the English leagues will be finished by June 30.
There are important reasons, financial and commercial, for that cut-off point.
The first is that most footballer’s contracts (those who expire this year) would end on that day. If the leagues went on for another week or two, you’d have the strange situation where a player whose contract was expiring, wouldn’t be available for a couple of crucial matches at the end of the season because they were out of a contract.
Similarly, free agents, or Bosman players if you prefer, who signed deals in January would be expected to report to, or at least be available for, their new clubs after that date.
Another reason is that June 30 is when teams tend to change their kits. The design itself may not be that important but the kit manufacturer and sponsors certainly are.
If say Everton were having a new kit supplied by a new sports brand and were sponsored by a new company for the 2020-21 season, then which kits would they wear for matches after June 30?
This may all sound rather trivial but football is big business, a lot of money is involved and these things matter more than they appear.
What else could happen?
The season could be cancelled entirely.
One person who holds the view that that’s what should happen is West Ham Managing Director Karren Brady. But then again, she would say that.
After all, West Ham are in a perilous position in 16th and the cancellation of the season would mean they’d remain in the Premier League. That could mean a difference of tens of millions of pounds to the club and that’s just next season we’re talking about.
Promotion to the Premier League is one of the hardest tasks in football and she’s well aware of that. Only Brady herself will truly know if her view is based on human considerations or the sporting and financial ones of her employer.
Cancelling the season is not a terrible idea too, given the circumstances.
Unfair to Liverpool, sure.
But now is not the time for sentimentality.
Everyone wants the season to reach its natural conclusion but some things go beyond even football.
The wait goes on for real money punters to get stuck into some high-profile Premier League betting again.
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