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Could the Premier League Return in May to Avoid Loss of £750 Million?

Television CameraOn Friday April 3, Premier League chief Richard Masters will field a conference call that will feature representatives of all 20 top-flight clubs.

During that call, it is believed that Masters will propose an ambitious plan to EPL chiefs that will see the action get underway again as early as May, with all matches played behind closed doors.

That would satisfy the demands of the major broadcasters Sky Sports and BT Sport, who have had to start paying out refunds to their customers in the wake of a complete live sports blackout.

Failure to complete the 2019/20 season would allow broadcasters to file for a refund – costing clubs a whopping £750 million.

Under the plans, all Premier League matches would be played by July 16, which would enable Liverpool to be mathematically confirmed as winners, the Champions League places to be confirmed and the small matter of relegation to be decided.

Such a date would allow other formalities, such as the FA Cup and the Champions League, to also be completed in good time ahead of the 2020/21 campaign.

One cost-saving measure that is also being considered is a collective wage deferral scheme, which Premier League and Football League chiefs are also meeting to discuss.

They will talk to the PFA to see if an agreement can be reached, with deferred wages helping clubs at all levels to cut their costs at a time when revenue has all but disappeared.

Some clubs have already agreed their own voluntary pay cuts, with Leeds United players agreeing to give away an unspecified percentage and Birmingham City negotiating a deal that would see their squad hand over half of their salary for the weeks to come.

Could Next Season Be Shortened to Make Up for 2019/20 Debacle?

Football and Goalpost

The truth is that nobody really knows how long COVID-19 is going to be affecting our daily lives.

To give you a sense of the confusion, Donald Trump claimed the US would be back up and running by Easter, whereas the UK’s medical chief Jenny Harries has claimed we could be in a lockdown of some kind until as late as October.

If the latter is the case, it will leave football’s governing bodies with come rather difficult decisions to make.

There will be two priorities: finishing the 2019/20 campaign in satisfactory fashion, even if it means playing through the summer, and ensuring that Euro 2021 as we must know call it starts in June next year as planned.

And that means that the domestic campaign in 2020/21 may take something of a hit.

There will be ramifications of that, of course. As well as a cut in TV revenue, other loss of sponsorship and commercial partnerships could lose the Premier League as much as £3 billion.

Other options include a one-year suspension of the League and FA Cup, as well as a reduction in the number of international breaks. That would prevent the number of weekends being gobbled up, and allow a 38-game campaign to be played in decent fashion.

That all-important conference call on Friday will reveal more, and it is anticipated that most clubs – if not all – will agree to finishing the current season behind closed doors in order to get their hands on the Sky and BT money.

However, the implications of a late finish this season have not yet been confirmed, and particularly with regards to the 2020/21 campaign.