(CNN)Professional football in England will be further postponed until at least April 30 as governing bodies committed to extending the current season indefinitely.
The decision came after the English Premier League held an emergency board meeting with all 20 clubs to discuss the impact of the novel coronavirus outbreak. The league had initially been suspended until April 3, but the extension comes as the UK government steps up its response to the outbreak.
“The progress of COVID-19 remains unclear and we can reassure everyone the health and welfare of players, staff and supporters are our priority,” read a joint statement by the Premier League, the English Football League (EFL) and the English Football Association (FA). “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.”Read More
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Without sport, footballers turn to video games 01:28READ: EPL in limbo as chiefs consider ‘radical solutions’ to finish the season’United in our commitment’There are 92 games still be played in the current EPL calendar. Liverpool has yet to secure the title, Champions League places are still up for grabs and relegation needs to be settled.UEFA has already postponed Euro 2020 until next year, clearing the way for a delayed end to the domestic season.FA rules had required that the current season to be completed by June 1 but a decision was made on Thursday for that limit to be extended “indefinitely.””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,” added the statement. Leading figures at EPL clubs had already been at loggerheads on how best to proceed, with the vice-chair at West Ham United Karren Brady arguing the football season should be declared “null and void”.Meanwhile, Brighton and Hove Albion’s chief executive Paul Barber said that option would be “incredibly unjust” for league leader Liverpool, which sits 25 points clear and is searching for its first domestic title in 30 years.
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The latest news in coronavirus affecting sport: WTA, MLB and Bundesliga 01:03READ: French Open criticized for ‘selfish, arrogant’ rescheduling amid coronavirus outbreakRisk to clubsSuch uncertainly also poses a financial risk to clubs, with questions remaining over how the league will manage the TV deals and sponsorships that have been disrupted by the suspension. Tottenham Hotspur chairman Daniel Levy said the wider football community must work together to restore the current season but only when it is “safe and practical to do so.””We shall all need to work together to ensure the impact of this crisis does not undermine the future stability of the Club,” Levy wrote in a club statement, saying COVID-19 was the biggest challenge he’d faced in his role.
“This will include working with the wider football industry and its stakeholders to seek to restore the season. … Our priority is the health and wellbeing of our staff, players, partners, supporters and their families,” he wrote.”We shall look to come out of this stronger and more resilient than ever. Our hope is that the virus peaks over the coming weeks and that we have a summer to enjoy.”