The 2020/21 Premier League season could begin as little as two weeks after the 2019/20 campaign is concluded, making for a rapid turnaround to ensure that coronavirus disruption on next season is as minimal as possible following the current delays.
English football, previously on hold until at least 30 April, has joined other countries across Europe in being suspended indefinitely and will not return until the government deems it safe.
FIFA will imminently announce measures for an indefinite extension to the 2019/20 season, allowing each association flexibility and control over when its own league finishes. There will also be a revision of the summer transfer window dates and power to extend expiring contracts.
June and July have been rumoured as potential months to restart the paused Premier League, with a conclusion perhaps coming in August. That still seems optimistic given the scale of the ongoing health crisis.
Whatever happens, the Daily Mail writes that Premier League clubs have been warned there may be just two weeks between the finish of one season and the start of the next.
There is a logic that players will have already had a long break by then because of the current pause and if 2020/21 begins soon after 2019/20 concludes, players should already be match fit, negating the need for a traditional pre-season of four or five weeks.
However, the Mail also notes that there are already fears about players suffering muscle injuries if the 2019/20 resumes too quickly without enough time for training, and those concerns will only increase if the new season follows on almost immediately from this one.
Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne has already aired similar worries.
“In England they want to wait as long as possible with a decision. But as a footballer that is not helpful. When you are idle for six weeks, normally you need a preparation of three to four weeks. If we restart immediately, everyone will be injured after a few games,” he said.
As well as when football will resume, the other news that dominated English sport in recent days is the debate over Premier League pay cuts which continues to rage.
The Premier League announced last week an intention for clubs to consult players over a 30% pay cut or deferral that could last for up to a year. The nature and timing of that public declaration is believed to have angered many players, many of whom would prefer to donate directly to the NHS and hospitals rather than see the clubs keep the money.
PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor has called on clubs to be more up front and transparent about their financial positions so that players are fully aware of what they would be agreeing to with regard to a reduction of deferral and where withheld wages would be going.
“Players want to be together, you don’t want to split players and clubs up. If you give them the full information then it’s a basis for understanding and you will get more of a chance of agreement,” Taylor is quoted as saying by the Daily Mirror.
“We need the clubs to be open with the finances, the players need to be open and hopefully we’ll all be singing from the same hymn sheet. They need to know exactly what they are dealing with. We need players to have a full understanding and knowledge of the finances for the long term.”
The Mirror adds that several clubs held talks with captains on Monday, reaching an agreement that no sides can ask for players to reduce or defer wages in excess of 30%.