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FA chief 'says season cannot be finished', 'total shutdown' until September - reports

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Greg Clarke

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ByCarrie Dunn
13/03/2020 at 17:33 | Updated 13/03/2020 at 18:34
@carriesparkle

FA chairman Greg Clarke told representatives of the Premier League clubs that he does not think the domestic football season will be completed, according to a report in the Times.

Clarke was part of Friday's emergency Premier League meeting, which agreed to suspend the Premier League, EFL, the FA Women’s Super League and the Women’s Championship until April 4 in the wake of a series of coronavirus cases.

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The Times suggest that he told the meeting that he did not think it was “feasible” the season would be completed, due to indications that the virus will not reach its peak in England until June, meaning that clubs will not be able to fulfil their fixtures.

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Premier League chief executive Richard Masters is reported to have said that the current temporary suspension gave everyone time to consider future courses of action.

It is thought that the financial costs of not completing the season could amount to £750 million for the Premier League alone.

The Times quote a "senior figure in broadcasting" as saying:

The commercial reality for the Premier League and Uefa is that if they don’t complete their seasons then they are in breach of their broadcasting contracts.

"You would have broadcasters from all around the world saying, ‘In that case we are not paying for the season.' For the Premier League alone you are talking around £3 billion income a year from overseas and domestic TV rights.

"There would also be financial implications if the competitions were squeezed, so fewer matches were played. Again, broadcasters have signed contracts for an agreed number of matches and so if those matches are not played then it could be argued that the contracts have been breached and compensation must be paid.”

'Total shutdown until September'

A separate report in The Independent stated that the idea that football could resume at the start of April was viewed as "ludicrous" in some quarters. And that English football could be shut down for around six months - with potentially devastating impacts on the game.

Football authorities in England and Europe are braced for a total shutdown of the game until at least September, amid fears that scores of clubs could go out of business and the sport could be sent into meltdown. It's understood the Covid-19 outbreak reached such a point of crisis for the sport on Thursday that the leading English bodies received a call direct from the COBRA meeting, where there was an admission the situation on full attendances at stadiums may have been misread.

"All games in England’s Premier League, English Football League, Women’s Super League and Women’s Championship were on Friday morning postponed until April 4 but a source close to discussions told The Independent that the 'idea we are going to be playing by then is ludicrous.'"

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