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What does the Premier League suspension mean for the season?

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Pep Guardiola (rechts) und Jürgen Klopp.

Image credit: Getty Images

ByAlexander Netherton
13/03/2020 at 11:25 | Updated 13/03/2020 at 16:38

What are the implications of the Premier League suspension? Eurosport considers the potential impacts.

Could it be postponed further?

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It is entirely possible that the Premier League could be offline for months. Italy suspended its league only a couple of weeks ago but with the country nowhere near ready to resume anything like normal service, it is not clear if they will be able to restart. If England goes through something as analogous, if only in the scale of the disruption, then it could be an eventual delay of months, not weeks.

Similarly, there is a limited amount of time to complete the season before Euro 2020 kick in, if it does, and for European games to be played. It is not even obvious when next season could start, so while a further postponement already seems inevitable, cancellation cannot be ruled out.

Klopp Liverpool

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Are plans in place to cancel the season entirely?

No. Such a decision would be hugely controversial and have financial, logistic and football implications which are too great to organise yet.

Some Premier League teams were reportedly keen to cancel the whole season, and you can make an educated guess about who would benefit the most from such a decision.

The three sides in the relegation zone - Bournemouth, Aston Villa and Norwich City - would presumably be relieved if the season was called off and they were given the chance to play for their survival once more. However, other teams around the drop zone might not want to risk the remainder of the season, either.

Those from fourth to second - Chelsea, Leicester City and Manchester City - are under pressure from Tottenham Hotspur, Sheffield United Wolves and Manchester United in the race for the Champions League spots. If the season standings are held as now, they would be in line for Champions League money next season. That, of course, assumes that Man City somehow escape their ban. As Man United are currently in fifth they may want to take a risk and see if their current position does the job. Executive vice chairman Ed Woodward may even want to write the season off for his own benefit, and claim United were on their way to a resurgence without having to prove it.

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Liverpool are possibly the team who would have the most to lose, because no trophy would be awarded in some circumstances, and they may not even be recorded as the winner.

Given the various conflicting demands, it is hard to see if any plans to cancel the league could even have been properly discussed in such a short space of time this morning.

How will teams handle it?

Bournemouth, Leicester, Arsenal, Chelsea and Everton have all reported cases or suspected cases, and they are embracing various courses of self-isolation, and advising staff and players not to come to club facilities. With the spread of the virus likely extensive but so far unquantifiable, it will be hard for each club to make the right decision on limited information. With the sums of money involved at each club, taking extreme measures to protect their players with private medical care, food deliveries, and the usual concierge services afforded to top-flight footballers, they might be the most protected people in the country. But given that there is no explicit guidance from the government to self-isolate regardless of symptoms, they may continue to socialise and spread the virus as the rest of the country will do.

Cesar Azpilicueta (rechts) - Lucas Digne, Gylifi Sigurdsson (beide links) | FC Chelsea - FC Everton

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What are the financial implications?

The costs could be huge, and there may be plenty of legal and other disagreements to come.

Some contracts and agreements will have force majeure considerations written into them. Other decisions may be taken by votes. For others, the state might step in. There are relegation and European places to decide, as well as who win the Premier League. In terms of money, each of those decisions will be worth tens of millions of pounds. Clubs may litigate to resolve any perceived unfairness or contractual ambiguity, for example. Players may do the same over lost earnings if contracts do not cover these circumstances. Ticket sales bring in hundreds of millions of pounds and may be lost entirely.

Nicolas Pepe of Arsenal takes on Gaetano Berardi and Ezgjan Alioski of Leeds United during the FA Cup Third Round match between Arsenal FC and Leeds United at the Emirates Stadium on January 06, 2020

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Worse than all of that, if a player were to die or forced into retirement as a result of the illness, then clubs could have to examine any insurance cover they have over their squads. They are not always comprehensively insured due to the costs of doing so.

Further down the stream, the costs get more diffuse but no less critical. Food vans will lose their weekly sales, as will those selling merchandise. Broadcasters could incur losses from cancelled subscriptions, with the balance sheet already under pressure from the sheer costs of buying the rights. Other media organisations may lose out from fewer engagements, and sponsors will find their names displayed less regularly on television.

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