There is a growing feeling amongst some Premier League clubs that the current season may have to be cancelled, according to reports.
The Premier League and EFL opted last week to suspend the current campaigns indefinitely, meaning they intend to complete the seasons at the soonest available opportunity and had no plans to write them off.
The plans involved returning to action on June 1 and finishing the season before the new campaign is due to start on August 8. They are understood to be prepared to play behind closed doors, if necessary.
However, it appears the chances of that happening are dwindling. The United Kingdom is currently under lockdown, with cases of Covid-19 rising every day and showing no sign of abating for some time. In fact, like many countries, they are only at the beginning of their battle with the illness.
There are also concerns within the league about the morality of trying to operate as normal when the country, and the world, is gripped by a pandemic.
According to David Ornstein, writing in The Athletic, the calls to abandon the Premier League season are growing amongst the division’s power brokers. The report states that several clubs want to end the season “with immediate effect” and start afresh when it is safe to do so. That would mean Liverpool, who only needed six more points to be crowned league champions for the first time since 1990, would miss out on the title.
The sources quoted in the article say that it would immoral to go ahead with games in June, as few believe the pandemic will have passed by then. They are also against the idea of playing games behind closed doors.
As Wayne Rooney said last week, these games would still require medical personal to be on-site, something that would drain vital resources from the NHS at a time of national emergency.
One source quoted, a chairman of a Premier League club, said they found the current plan – to resume games in the summer and suspend the season indefinitely – to be “insulting.” Another said it was “wrong”, while another said that “there is no place for sport at the moment.”
According to one source, a “high-ranking” club official, “It’s absolutely clear what is going to happen. It’s a worldwide pandemic. You just start (the Premier League season) again and there are very few losers.
“Liverpool, I know. But in the grand scheme of things, honestly, it really doesn’t matter. You’ve just got to start again.
“This is going to get worse here (in Britain), so it’s not about players returning to training. If we all stay at home and self-isolate for the next two, three months, we’re going to get through this quite simply. But even then, there’s going to be a period of slow reintegration into normality, otherwise, the virus will spike again. So, if we’re lucky, the new season will start in September.”
“We look like petulant, ridiculous children now. I passionately believe what we’re doing is wrong. And I would like to think my colleagues now believe that as well, that the world has changed. It’s a scary place at the moment and we’ve got to treat it seriously.”
Last week, all 20 Premier League clubs voted in favour of attempting to complete the 2019/20 season. One of the reasons why was that they may have to pay back £762m in broadcast revenue if the season was cancelled.
However, a week is a long-time in the world of coronavirus and it appears the outlook has changed amongst some clubs.
Ornstein writes that some now have strong reservations about trying to play football during the crisis and are “leaning towards” declaring the season null and void, regardless of the financial consequences.
For any motion to pass, 14 of the 20 Premier League clubs would have to vote in favour of it.