Professional football’s governing bodies are bracing for the possibility of a legal and logistical nightmare after deciding to indefinitely extend the 2019-20 campaign.
The Premier League, the EFL and the Scottish FA all announced the current campaign will not resume until April 30 at the earliest due to the continuing coronavirus pandemic.
And while it is understood none are looking beyond June 30 for the season to end, there is an acknowledgement that realistically that may be a date that is hard to keep.
Referencing the projected April 30 restart date, a statement from the Scottish FA conceded: “The medical advice is that we will not have reached the peak of the coronavirus epidemic in this country by then and the escalating measures which restrict the ability to play football matches will likely remain in force.”
Pushing the end of the season beyond June 30 would have repercussions not only for the following campaign, but for players’ contracts, most of which are due to expire on that date.
World governing body FIFA has established a working group to look at temporary amendments and dispensations on player contracts, while the PA news agency understands clubs have discussed the need to finish the season from an economic perspective in order to fulfil commitments to broadcast partners.
That could involve playing games behind closed doors, something Manchester United acknowledged after it made a commitment to paying matchday and non-matchday casual workers irrespectively.
“Manchester United will pay all its loyal matchday and non-matchday casual workers, should Premier League games be cancelled or played behind closed doors for the remainder of this season,” a club statement read.
“This goodwill gesture reflects the club’s desire to reduce the financial uncertainty facing its casual workforce, and is in recognition of the crucial role they play in delivering services to supporters.”
The joint statement from the governing bodies on Thursday read: “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.
“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.
“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.”
Arsenal released a statement following the meeting which read: “We are fully supportive of this decision which was endorsed at Thursday morning’s Premier League shareholder meeting.
“Of course, we all want to be back playing football as soon as we possibly can, but only when it is safe to be doing so.”
The Turkish Football Federation announced that all football activities in the country have been suspended until further notice, following a recommendation made by president Recep Erdogan.
Talks to thrash out a rejigged cricket season will continue for a second day on Friday.
England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) bosses will meet again with chiefs from the 18 counties, in a bid to plot the way forward amid the coronavirus outbreak.
The ECB board is then due to meet later on Friday to progress any agreed contingency plans, the PA news agency understands.
Organisers of the Monaco Grand Prix, which had initially been postponed from its original date in May, have now confirmed that the race will not take place this year.
And the World Snooker Championship, which has been held in its current guise at the Crucible Theatre every year since 1977, is expected to be postponed on Friday.
Meanwhile the Los Angeles Lakers announced that two players have tested positive for Covid-19.
Both unnamed players have been quarantined and are yet to show any symptoms.