English football faces further delays, Premier League details solidarity plans

The English Premier League has today (Friday) conceded that play will not resume at the beginning of May, while it has outlined plans to advance funds of £125m (€142m/$153m) to the Football League (EFL) and National League to assist clubs hit by revenue losses during COVID-19.

The announcement came following a Premier League meeting, where clubs discussed in detail how to respond to the global pandemic. On March 19, professional football in England was further postponed until at least April 30 due to the outbreak.

The Premier League today said it will not resume play at the beginning of May, and that the 2019-20 season will only return when it is “safe and appropriate to do so”. It added in a statement: “The Premier League is working closely with the whole of professional football in this country, as well as with the government, public agencies and other relevant stakeholders to ensure the game achieves a collaborative solution.

“With this, there is a combined objective for all remaining domestic league and cup matches to be played, enabling us to maintain the integrity of each competition. However, any return to play will only be with the full support of government and when medical guidance allows.”

This action has been mirrored by the EFL, Football Association, FA Women’s Super League and FA Women’s Championship, who said in a joint statement that their football competitions would be postponed until it is safe to resume.

Today’s meeting took place after Health Secretary Matt Hancock yesterday singled out elite footballers by stating that Premier League players should “take a pay cut and play their part” during the pandemic.

In the face of substantial and continuing losses for the 2019-20 season since the suspension of matches began, and to protect employment throughout the professional game, Premier League clubs have unanimously agreed to consult their players regarding a combination of conditional reductions and deferrals amounting to 30% of total annual remuneration. This guidance will be kept under constant review as circumstances change.

Discussions also took place regarding financial relief for clubs in the short term and while the League said “there is no single solution”, measures are to be put in place to immediately deal with the impact of falling cash flow.

Notably, the League unanimously voted to advance funds of £125m to the EFL and National League, stating it is “aware of the severe difficulties” clubs throughout the football pyramid are suffering at this time.

The EFL said it “notes and appreciates” the decision taken by the Premier League in respect of the advancement of solidarity payments, parachute payments and academy grants. It added: “These actions will have a positive impact on individual clubs across our three divisions at a difficult and uncertain time.”

In addition, in consultation with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, the Premier League is immediately committing £20m to support the NHS, communities, families and vulnerable groups during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This includes a direct financial contribution to the NHS and funds to enable clubs to refocus their efforts and develop “significant outreach programmes” to help communities, including those most in need.