Premier League meeting: What could it mean for the rest of the season?
Premier League games currently suspended until April 3; UEFA says European leagues 'committed to finishing seasons by June 30 should situation improve'
By Bryan Swanson - Chief Reporter, Sky Sports News
Last Updated: 19/03/20 1:11pm
Premier League clubs and officials will meet on Thursday to discuss plans for the remainder of the season following the coronavirus outbreak.
Top-flight fixtures in England are currently suspended until April 4 - though that date is widely expected to be pushed back - and Premier League bosses will now hold a key meeting with clubs to discuss next steps amid the pandemic.
Sky Sports News' chief reporter Bryan Swanson highlights the main items on the agenda...
When and where will meeting take place?
Thursday morning's meeting will take place via conference call with there being a UK ban on non-essential social contact and many encouraged to work from home.
Sky Sports News has been told this week's club conference call is part of ongoing conversations and discussions between the Premier League and clubs.
Who will be there?
All 20 clubs will be represented on the call, led by Premier League interim chair Claudia Arney. She was present on last week's call, along with Premier League chief executive Richard Masters, and Arney is expected to have a more leading role in discussions.
What's on the agenda?
This will be the first conference call to focus solely on the longer-term implications of an unprecedented situation. Last Friday, every club agreed to suspend games until at least April 4, in a united front with the rest of English football.
The call will include expert advice and clubs will receive modelling that shows various scenarios and its anticipated impact. A number of options will be put to clubs, but to start a discussion rather than make a decision on the day.
Will this season end?
That is the Premier League's ambition, to resume the season and getting the games played when it is safe and right to do so.
Given the ongoing uncertainty over the coronavirus pandemic, we are unlikely to receive a concrete answer on a timeframe at this stage.
Will the season be 'null and void'?
No other European league has adopted that approach, so it would be premature to expect the Premier League to take the lead on such a decision.
An agreement will have to be reached on when the current season should end, at some point, but developments in the world are changing at pace and there is no immediate need to rush to any commitment.
Currently, there seems no appetite from the majority of clubs to declare the season null and void.
Why not extend the end date to the season?
The Premier League has committed to finish the season by 30 June "should the situation improve", along with every other league in European football, but they will only resume games when it is safe to do so.
Clubs will want to play all 38 games. It is cleaner, and avoids a potential legal minefield.
"On the face of it, why not?", says one senior football executive, when asked whether the new season should start later in the year.
What is the rush to start the new season in August? Why not prioritise ending the current one first?
Clearly, the Premier League would prefer to start the new season on schedule. But these are extraordinary times, and every scenario is likely to be considered.
Why not play games behind closed doors?
Public health will always remain the No 1 priority. Premier League clubs understand the need to resume games. But they also understand the game will always remain second to health.
Usually, there is at least one ambulance at every game, in case of a serious head injury, for instance. No club will want to put any additional strain on an already stretched national health service.
Until the pandemic is contained in England, it seems unreasonable to expect any games to resume, even with no fans inside stadiums.
How will Euro 2020 postponement help the Premier League?
The postponement of Euro 2020 would theoretically allow the remaining Premier League fixtures to be played during the summer.
The UEFA statement outlines there may be "possible limitations or drops of current exclusive calendar slots, potentially resulting in the scheduling of domestic league matches in midweek and scheduling of UEFA club competitions matches on weekends".
It also mentions possible adaptations of the 2020/21 Champions League and Europa League qualifying rounds, which ordinarily begin in July for many teams.
How likely is consensus?
Every club has its own agenda, with different ownership and financial models. It is normal for clubs to exchange differing views. Determining the future of the season is about as decisive as it gets.
On Tuesday, FA chief executive Mark Bullingham told Sky Sports News that "everyone's priority is to finish the season" following the unprecedented postponement of Euro 2020.
The rallying call to clubs will to be show a sense of togetherness and do what is right for the integrity of the game. The ambition is to resume the season, and get games played, but only when it is safe to do so.
Most clubs in the Premier League have closed their training grounds, with players currently working on fitness themselves at home.
Any update on season tickets?
Some clubs have already cancelled the sale windows for their 2020/21 season tickets, including Tottenham and Crystal Palace.
What about player contracts?
Clubs will be guided by FIFA, via the Football Association.
A working group has been established by world football's governing body and talks are ongoing over player transfers and contracts.
A group of experts will consider whether to make "amendments or temporary dispensations to the regulations on the status and transfer of players to protect contracts for both players and clubs and adjusting player registration periods."
In other words, change existing regulations to provide greater flexibility.
Will it affect the transfer window?
FIFA are looking at everything but ultimately, it's down to each association to decide what they do with their own transfer window.
In England and Scotland, the men's transfer window is scheduled to open on June 10 and close on September 1. In England, the women's transfer window is scheduled to open on the June 19 and close on September 10 and in Scotland the women's window is only open in July.
But when does the season end, when does the new season begin, what happens in the middle and how does that transfer window evolve?
Ultimately, it's for those associations to decide between themselves. There's no one overlord, in terms of FIFA, it's down to each governing body, and in this case it's the FA and the SFA.
Big calls and big decisions to be made but ultimately, they will be linked back to the issue on registrations and the issues on player contracts.
Will clubs discuss the financial impact?
Yes, the game's top clubs are expected to discuss financial challenges.
On Wednesday, the English Football League [EFL] agreed a £50m short-term relief package to assist its 71 clubs in the Championship, League One and League Two.
The Premier League supports the EFL with more than £140m per season of 'solidarity payments' and ringfenced youth development grants.
FIFA will discuss a potential support fund and they will assess the economic impact faced by clubs around the world.
FA officials are in talks with the government over how the game supports those clubs in crisis.
In the 2016/17 season, a study by Ernst & Young found that the Premier League contributed more than £3.3billion in tax to the UK economy, with its clubs supporting almost 100,000 jobs.
Is a decision imminent?
The million dollar question. The answer at this stage is no, a decision on the future of the Premier League is not considered likely after one conference call. Further talks are planned next week.
There must be an update, at some point, over a revised date on when they would like games to resume. But that guidance will only follow the ever-changing government advice.