English football chiefs set for 'difficult' coronavirus decisions

English football chiefs set for 'difficult' coronavirus decisions
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London: England's Premier League, Professional Footballers' Association and Football League are steadying themselves for some "difficult decisions" amid the coronavirus outbreak as they try to see if there is a way of restarting the season.

The three organisations all met earlier to examine the financial impact of suspending the season, with Britain as a whole in a state of lockdown.

"The Premier League, EFL and PFA met and discussed the growing seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic," they said in a joint statement.

"It was stressed that the thoughts of all three organisations continue to be with everyone affected by the virus.

"The Premier League, EFL and PFA agreed that difficult decisions will have to be taken in order to mitigate the economic impact of the current suspension of professional football in England and agreed to work together to arrive at shared solutions."

Some clubs have asked players to defer up to half their wages, while players at Championship leaders Leeds, pushing for promotion to the lucrative Premier League, have volunteered for a wage deferral.

The governing bodies are set for more talks next week as they try to draw up a unified plan.

Last week saw the projected restart of the season pushed back until April 30, and that date has not moved.

"The leagues will not recommence until April 30 at the earliest. They will only do so when it is safe and conditions allow," added the statement.

"Further meetings will take place next week with a view to formulating a joint plan to deal with the difficult circumstances facing the leagues, their clubs, players, staff and fans." 

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Football Association insisted they had no regrets about their announcement earlier this week that saw a host of lower-division leagues declared null and void because of the coronavirus outbreak.

"The decision was taken to end the 2019/20 season across Steps 3-7 of the National League System, the women's football pyramid and the wider grassroots game was made by committee representatives for the respective leagues, and was supported by the FA Board and the FA Women's Board," the spokesperson said.

"It will now go to the FA Council for ratification. We fully support the decision they came to during these challenging and unprecedented circumstances for English football."

English football chiefs set for 'difficult' coronavirus decisions
Spurs captain Harry Kane

Scrap season if it can't be finished by end of June, says Kane

England captain Harry Kane said the Premier League season should be cancelled if it cannot be completed by the end of June because of the coronavirus pandemic.

"I know the Premier League will do everything they can to finish the season, and that they are looking at every option possible," Kane said in an Instagram Live conversation with former Liverpool star Jamie Redknapp.

"I think, for me, we do need to try to finish the season. But there needs to be a point where enough is enough.

"Playing into July or August and pushing next season back I don't see too much benefit in that. But obviously I don't know too much about behind the scenes and financially.

"Probably the limit for me is the end of June. If the season's not completed by the end of June we need to look at the options and just look forward to next season." 

Premier League matches could potentially be staged behind closed doors in a bid to complete this campaign once the current lockdown in Britain is over.

English football chiefs set for 'difficult' coronavirus decisions

Man City's Gundogan says Liverpool deserve title if season cancelled

Manchester City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan says it would only be "fair" for rivals, Liverpool, to be awarded the English Premier League trophy if the season cannot be completed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Gundogan told German broadcaster ZDF that Liverpool deserved to be crowned champions given their massive 25-point lead over second-placed City, the current holders, which has left them just two wins away from the title. 

"For me, that would be okay, yes," Gundogan said, on being asked whether Liverpool should be handed their first top-flight title for 30 years should the season not be completed. 

"You have to be fair as a sportsperson," he added while conceding that it was a difficult decision for football authorities given the impact that the cancellation of the season would have at both ends of the table.

"There are different opinions. For clubs who have had a very good season, it obviously wouldn't be nice if it was cancelled now," he said.

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