English football chiefs set for ‘difficult’ decisions on leagues

By AFP: Sunday, March 29th 2020 at 00:00 GMT +3 | Premier League
Premier League - Watford v Liverpool - Vicarage Road, Watford, Britain - February 29, 2020, Liverpool's Divock Origi in action with Watford's Kiko. [Action Images via Reuters/Andrew] 

England's Premier League, Professional Footballers' Association and Football League are steadying themselves for some "difficult decisions" amid the coronavirus outbreak as they try to see if there is a way of restarting the season.

The three organisations met on Friday to examine the financial impact of suspending the season, with Britain as a whole in a state of lockdown.

"The Premier League, EFL and PFA met today and discussed the growing seriousness of the Covid-19 pandemic," they said in a joint statement.

"It was stressed that the thoughts of all three organisations continue to be with everyone affected by the virus.

"The Premier League, EFL and PFA agreed that difficult decisions will have to be taken to mitigate the economic impact of the current suspension of professional football in England and agreed to work together to arrive at shared solutions."

Some clubs have asked players to defer up to half their wages, while players at Championship leaders Leeds, pushing for promotion to the lucrative Premier League, have volunteered for a wage deferral.

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The governing bodies are set for more talks next week as they try to draw up a unified plan.

Last week saw the projected restart of the season pushed  back until April 30, and that date has not moved.

"The leagues will not recommence until April 30 at the earliest. They will only do so when it is safe and conditions allow," added the statement.

Meanwhile a spokesperson for the Football Association insisted they had no regrets about their announcement earlier this week that saw a host of lower division leagues declared null and void because of the coronavirus outbreak. 

"The decision taken to end the 2019/20 season across Steps 3-7 of the National League System, the women's football pyramid and the wider grassroots game was made by committee representatives for the respective leagues, and was supported by the FA Board and the FA Women's Board," the spokesperson said.

"It will now go to the FA Council for ratification. We fully support the decision they came to during these challenging and unprecedented circumstances for English football."

In Spain, Atletico Madrid became the latest LaLiga club to request labour authorities to allow them to cut player and staff salaries while football is suspended in Spain due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement, club CEO Miguel Angel Gil said that they were "obliged" to propose a partial unemployment plan "for the employees who, due to the state of emergency in our country, can no longer carry their work".

Atleti are among a raft of clubs set to take a huge financial hit due to the indefinite suspension of football in Spain, one of the countries worst hit by COVID-19.

Gil did not outline by how much salaries would be cut, but confirmed that the measure concerned both players and staff.

Earlier on Friday La Liga's bottom club Espanyol asked labour authorities in Catalonia to allow them to cut player and staff salaries by 70 percent.

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