London (AFP) – Premier League clubs will debate how to finish the season on Friday, with reports that a June 30 deadline will be proposed amid the coronavirus crisis.
Bosses at the Premier League are under pressure to thrash out the best way to conclude the 2019-20 campaign after the pandemic caused chaos with the football schedule.
Premier League action has been suspended since March and the financial fall-out is causing clubs to worry about potentially huge losses, while highly-paid players are yet to agree wages cuts to help balance the books.
Reports suggest nine clubs are in favour of ending the campaign by June 30, with the complications of contract expiration dates — many are set to run out at that time — among the key issues.
Chelsea midfielder Willian and Tottenham defender Jan Vertonghen are two of the stars whose contracts will expire, making it a risk for them to play on if the season extends into July.
Liverpool are due to change shirt manufacturers from New Balance to Nike, while Watford and Newcastle are also switching kit suppliers, raising the potential for contractual disputes if the season is not finished in time.
Setting a final date for 2019-20 would allow teams to turn their attention to starting next season on time.
However, planning the conclusion of the current campaign remains difficult given the uncertainty about how soon the virus will be contained.
The Premier League has already stated that play will not resume until “it is safe and appropriate to do so”.
The Government has yet to clarify how long the current lockdown period will last.
One alternative to the deadline is ending the season with the standings as they are, but that would trigger complaints and potential legal challenges from relegated clubs and teams that miss out on European places.
Against that backdrop, Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder does not expect a deadline to be set for the season’s conclusion just yet.
“I’m sure that we will adjust accordingly,” Wilder told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
“I think for the integrity of the competition and competitions, especially the top end of English football and European football, they’ll want to finish the season.
“I believe that there will be an ability next year to adjust, with international breaks, with moving a few games into midweek. We have that ability through organisation and planning to finish this season off.
“But only as everybody said, and I’ll reiterate that, when it’s safe to do so for everybody. And that obviously we have to take our lead off the Government and what they suggest and want us to do.”
Brighton chairman Tony Bloom agreed that getting a definitive deadline from Friday’s meeting might be tricky.
“We would like to finish the season,” Bloom said.
“There does come a point when we can’t keep waiting but I don’t think June 30 is that point.
“There’s talk about player contracts and sponsorship and it’s difficult to play beyond that but this situation is so unique and unprecedented every option should be looked at.”
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