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Premier League, EFL and WSL suspension extended as summer football beckons

Old Trafford hosts the Premier League match between Manchester United and Manchester City on March 8 (by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)

English professional football will remain postponed until April 30 at the earliest, with stakeholders today (Thursday) reaching an agreement that will allow the domestic season to extend beyond June 1.

The joint statement released today on behalf of the Football Association (FA), Premier League, English Football League (EFL) and women’s professional game had been setup by the announcement earlier this week that Uefa Euro 2020 would be put back a year.

The decision, ratified by world football’s governing body Fifa yesterday, saw Uefa postpone its 2020 European Championship by 12 months in a bid to help domestic competitions across Europe be completed. The move came as a response to the Covid-19 outbreak and was echoed by the rescheduling of South America’s Copa América national team tournament until 2021.

English football stakeholders last week announced that matches would not be played in the country until April 3 at the earliest. The joint statement today read: “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.”

Today’s announcement comes after the EFL, governing body of the three divisions below the Premier League, said it would provide a £50m (€53.3m/$57.5m) short-term relief package to clubs in financial distress due to Covid-19, adding that its “primary objective” was to successfully complete the 2019-20 season.

Today’s statement added: “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.”

Officials in Italy and Spain yesterday expressed hope that Serie A and LaLiga may be able to restart in May, as Lars-Christer Olsson, chairman of the European Leagues group, stated forward planning is hopeful at present for football bodies facing a “major” liquidity problem amid Covid-19.