- Premier League set to vote on how to proceed with 2019-20 season on May 8
- Representatives from all 20 clubs engaged in a four-hour conference call on Friday
- Liverpool 25 points clear of second place Manchester City at the time play was halted in March
ESPN FC reported Friday that the Premier League is prepared to take a vote that could wind up determining the fate of the 2019-20 season. Soccer in England has been on hold since the middle of March as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
ESPN says that representatives of all 20 Premier League clubs participated in a video meeting on Friday in which they all pledged their commitment to completing the current season at some point. When that may happen obviously remains to be seen.
The clubs are slated to take a vote on the matter next Friday, May 8. A number of different options were discussed, but no consensus was reached with regard to how to proceed.
The Premier League will not act without the consent of the United Kingdom’s government. Once that guidance is received, the league is prepared to move forward and try to finish the season.
A number of different matters were discussed during Friday’s four-hour meeting, including the logistics involved with playing matches in front of empty stadiums. ESPN reported earlier this week about the possibility of the Premier League hosting a number of different teams at various neutral site hubs around England, but several teams came out against that plan on Friday.
The argument for neutral site venues is that less medical personnel would be required, and that it would be easier to keep those venues secure. Some are concerned that supporters may still wind up gathering outside of stadiums if matches are played at every club’s home venue.
The Mayor of Liverpool said earlier this week that he would prefer it if the Premier League cancelled the remainder of the season, which has already happened in countries like France, Belgium and the Netherlands. The Mayor is concerned that supporters may ignore social distancing guidelines and gather to celebrate outside of Anfield, Liverpool’s home park.
Liverpool were just 12 points from officially clinching the club’s first top-flight domestic title in 30 years at the time play was stopped in March. With second place Manchester City surely facing a nearly insurmountable 25-point deficit, some believe Liverpool should just be awarded the title if the season is called off.
Requirements for Return
Premier League clubs have also indicated that they would be willing to pay for Personal Protective Equipment for matchday staff at their respective stadiums, and that they would cover the costs of testing players and staff for the virus.
Some believe that a minimum of 100,000 tests would be required in order to help facilitate the return of the top-four tiers of soccer in the UK. The country’s government had set the same testing goal for the country by the end of April. However, on the last day of April just 81,000 tests had been conducted.
On the bright side, the government believes that a rapid increase in the number of tests is on the way.
The British government has created a group of medical experts designed to help explore the possibility of soccer’s return. The group was tasked with the goal “to step up planning on what may need to be done so that athletes could return to training, when it is deemed safe to do so.”
After the meeting, the Premier League issued a statement that said, “At a meeting of Premier League Shareholders today, clubs discussed possible steps towards planning to resume the 2019-20 season, when it is safe and appropriate to do so. It was reiterated that the thoughts of all are with those directly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The statement continued, “No decisions were taken at today’s shareholders meeting and clubs exchanged views on the information regarding ‘Project Restart.'”
UK Past its Peak?
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Thursday that the country is “past its peak” with regard to the virus, which increased optimism that the country may soon move toward easing lockdown restrictions that have been in place for weeks. The government is slated to officially explore that possibility on May 7.
Italy, which has been one of the countries hit hardest by the virus, is reportedly ready to let teams begin training soon with hopes of restarting the Serie A season later this month. German teams were also allowed to return to training with certain distancing measures still in place in late-April.
Earlier this week, some Premier League players came out against the idea of restarting the season, citing health concerns.