The suspension on ‘elite-level’ English football has been extended until at least April 30 in light of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
An initial suspension until April 4 was enforced last Friday, but the FA, Premier League, EFL and women’s professional game, together with the PFA and LMA, announced the decision to increase it on Thursday afternoon after a meeting earlier that morning.
But amid rumours that the 2019-20 season could be declared null and void, a statement published on the FA’s official website reaffirmed their commitment to seeing out the remainder of the campaign, regardless of how long that may take.
The full statement read:
“The FA, Premier League, EFL and women’s professional game, together with the PFA and LMA, understand we are in unprecedented times and our thoughts are with everyone affected by COVID-19.
”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.
”We have collectively supported UEFA in postponing EURO 2020 to create space in the calendar to ensure domestic and European club league and cup matches have an increased opportunity to be played and, in doing so, maintain the integrity of each competition.
”The FA’s Rules and Regulations state that “the season shall terminate not later than the 1 June” and “each competition shall, within the limit laid down by The FA, determine the length of its own playing season”. However, The FA’s Board has agreed for this limit to be extended indefinitely for the 2019/20 season in relation to Professional Football. Additionally, we have collectively agreed that the professional game in England will be further postponed until no earlier than 30 April.
”The progress of COVID-19 remains unclear and we can reassure everyone the health and welfare of players, staff and supporters are our priority. 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.
”We would all like to re-emphasise that our thoughts are with everyone affected by COVID-19.”
UEFA has already stated its desire to see all European leagues completed by June 30 at the latest, on which date many players’ contracts will expire, but that will certainly be less feasible now following these developments.
Though many expect this suspension to eventually extend further, the current ban affects the following Everton games (all Premier League):
Everton v Liverpool (Initially Monday, March 16)
Norwich City v Everton (Initially Saturday, March 21)
Everton v Leicester City (Initially Monday, April 6)
Tottenham Hotspur v Everton (Initially Saturday, April 11)
Everton v Southampton (Initially Saturday, April 18)
Wolverhampton Wanderers v Everton (Initially Saturday, April 25)