Clubs to discuss plan to complete derailed Premier League season

Premier League clubs will attempt to thrash out a plan to complete a season placed on ice by the coronavirus pandemic when they meet via a conference call on Thursday.

Top-flight fixtures have been suspended until April 4 at the earliest and while it seems certain that the lay-off will be extended, UEFA’s decision to postpone the Euro 2020 finals for 12 months has created room for manoeuvre.

It is understood the focus will be firmly on concluding the 2019-20 campaign at some point rather than on what might happen should they be unable to restart, while talks with broadcast partners, whose financial input represents such a large proportion of revenue, are ongoing.

The EFL has already announced a £50million short-term relief package to help out struggling lower league clubs during the shut-down, a move which was brought into sharp focus by Scottish Premiership side Hearts’ announcement that it has asked staff to take a 50 per cent pay cut.

In a statement on the club’s official website, Hearts owner Anne Budge said: “In order to try to prevent a staff redundancy programme and to protect as many jobs as possible, I am proposing to implement a club-wide salary reduction programme.

“Given the uncertainty of the whole situation with which we have been presented, we cannot say how long these measures will be in place.”

Meanwhile, England Women’s players and staff have received reassurance and advice from the Football Association’s medical team after two members of the party which travelled to the SheBelieves Cup in the United States earlier this month entered self-isolation.

England Women's head coach Phil Neville
England Women’s head coach Phil Neville (John Walton/PA)

The two people affected were placed in quarantine after coming into contact with Kozo Tashima, the president of the Japan Football Association, who has since tested positive for Covid-19.

However, no member of Phil Neville’s playing squad, coaching or support staff has symptoms.

An FA statement said: “We have every confidence that no player or member of the coaching staff was at any time in direct contact with the JFA president during the tournament.

“He had, however, been in contact with two FA staff members who are currently asymptomatic and will be following the public health guidance to self-isolate for 14 days.

“The health and safety of all staff and players under our care is our top priority and our medical team has today contacted all those involved in the recent tournament to offer reassurance and advice.

“At present, no-one associated with the England Women’s senior team is displaying symptoms of Covid-19.”

Away from football, World Athletics chief Lord Coe has admitted that athletes from some countries may be placed at a disadvantage at this summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo because of restrictions which are hampering their training regimes.

Coe, who insisted it would be wrong to write off the possibility of the Games starting on July 24 as planned, told the Times: “We don’t want athletes that are coming on stream for competition that have not been able to train for a couple of months while others may have come through it slightly earlier and are back in the mainstream.

Joint Announcement: ATP & @WTA extend suspension of tours.

Due to the continuing outbreak of COVID-19, all ATP and WTA tournaments in the Spring clay-court swing will not be held as scheduled.

— ATP Tour (@atptour) March 18, 2020

“Some countries that are coming into this later are going to be dealing with these issues closer to Tokyo.”

Tennis’ entire Spring clay-court season has fallen victim to the virus after the ATP and WTA Tours both suspended their programmes.

In a joint statement announcing the postponement of all tournaments until June 7, they called for a united approach to working towards a resumption after the French tennis federation had unilaterally moved the French Open back to September.

It said: “Now is not a time to act unilaterally, but in unison. All decisions related to the impact of the coronavirus require appropriate consultation and review with the stakeholders in the game, a view that is shared by ATP, WTA, ITF, AELTC, Tennis Australia, and USTA.”

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