Premier League, EFL and WSL suspended to April 3 at earliest

A detailed view of the match ball prior to the Premier League match between Leicester City and Manchester City (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

The Premier League, English Football League (EFL), Football Association (FA) and Women’s Super League (WSL) have today (Friday) announced that matches will not be played in the country until April 3 at the earliest due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Both the Premier League and the EFL had said yesterday that matches would go ahead as planned this weekend but steps have now been taken to suspend fixtures after Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta and Chelsea player Callum Hudson-Odoi tested positive for Covid-19.

A meeting of shareholders was held this morning, when it was unanimously decided to suspend matches with the intention of returning on April 4, subject to medical advice and conditions at the time.

The Scottish Football Association also announced this morning that all professional and grassroots football in the country would be postponed until further notice. Scottish Premiership giants Celtic and Rangers had been due to meet this Sunday.

The Premier League said its aim is to reschedule displaced fixtures, including those played by academy teams, when it is safe to do so.

English Premier League clubs Arsenal, Bournemouth, Chelsea, Leicester City and Manchester City said this week that all or some of their playing staff were in self-isolation. Certain Premier League matches this weekend

The EFL said the action to postpone the professional game in England will be kept under “constant review”. The EFL has also advised clubs to suspend all non-essential activities, including player appearances, training ground visits and fan meetings.

An EFL board meeting will be held next week, following which a further update will be provided.

The announcement will also result in the postponement of the England national team’s friendly matches against Italy and Denmark, which had been due to take place at Wembley Stadium on March 27 and March 31, respectively.

A total of 10 people have died in the UK from coronavirus and there are 596 confirmed cases. The UK government’s chief scientific adviser said yesterday that up to 10,000 could be infected already.

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters said: “Above all, we wish Mikel Arteta and Callum Hudson-Odoi speedy recoveries, and everyone else affected by COVID-19.

“In this unprecedented situation, we are working closely with our clubs, government, the FA and EFL and can reassure everyone the health and welfare of players, staff and supporters are our priority.”

The development comes after Uefa, football’s European governing body, announced earlier today that all Champions League and Europa League round of 16 ties and all Uefa Youth league matches scheduled for next week have been postponed.

The German Football League (DFL) also announced that this weekend’s fixtures will go ahead behind closed doors where possible, before an anticipated full suspension of the league beginning next Tuesday. In France, all Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 matches have been suspended immediately until further notice.