English football has been suspended until at least April 30 due to the coronavirus pandemic, it has been announced.
Premier League bosses on Thursday discussed via conference call the best way to proceed with the 2019/20 season, which was last week initially postponed until the beginning of April.
Earlier this UEFA made the huge call to postpone Euro 2020 by a year, which appeared to prove that completing Europe’s domestic football calendar was the priority.
And on Thursday afternoon, a joint statement from the various football governing bodies in England confirmed the decision to delay the professional game until the end of next month at the earliest.
“The FA, Premier League, EFL and women’s professional game, together with the PFA and LMA, understand we are in unprecedented times and our thoughts are with everyone affected by COVID-19,” read the statement.
“We are united in our commitment to finding ways of resuming the 2019/20 football season and ensuring all domestic and European club league and cup matches are played as soon as it is safe and possible to do so.
“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.
“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.
“We would all like to re-emphasise that our thoughts are with everyone affected by COVID-19.”
The Premier League had initially been suspended until April 4, with the EFL suspension originally ending a day earlier.
The EFL held a board meeting on Wednesday and has agreed a £50million short-term relief package to assist cash-strapped clubs during the coronavirus crisis.
The extension of the suspension makes the ambition to have the season finished by June 30 – a stated aim which came out of Tuesday’s UEFA meeting – look increasingly optimistic.
World governing body FIFA has established a working group to look at amendments and temporary dispensations in relation to standard player contracts, which expire on June 30.
At the time of the Premier League being suspended much was still to play for, with only the champions nearly being decided.
Liverpool sit 25 points clear of their closest rivals Man City and need only two more wins to secure their first ever Premier League title and first league championship in 30 years.
The Champions League and Europa League qualification places are all still up for grabs, while a good six teams are attempting to stave off relegation to the second tier.
Ahead of the announcement of the suspension of English football until April 30, former Arsenal manager Arsenal Wenger told talkSPORT the Premier League season must be played to a conclusion.
“I believe the priority for the Premier League is to finish the season,” the Gunners legend told Jim White on talkSPORT. “That could mean pushing fixtures back until the end of June, but they have to do that.”