Liverpool‘s quest for Premier League glory has been put on hold due to the coronavirus crisis but discussions on continuing the season remain ongoing.
Germany’s Bundesliga is set to return this weekend and Spain’s La Liga, as well as Italy’s Serie A, hope to follow suit, but Holland’s Eredivisie has been declared null and void, while France’s Ligue 1 has been cancelled.
There are a number of unanswered questions before football is played again and, due to this, there are also a wide number of reports.
Here, we will delve into the reports in a rolling piece that will be updated daily with all the latest suggestions and confirmed changes.
Wednesday May 13th
Football finance expert Kieran Maguire has predicted that there will be significantly less spending in the next transfer window by Premier League clubs.
The 2019/20 season has been halted due to the coronavirus crisis and significant changes to the football landscape are anticipated, which is likely to impact the business in the transfer market when the window opens.
Spending in the Premier League has risen significantly in recent years but, with the economic effects of the pandemic, Maguire believes those numbers will drop in the current climate.
“I don’t think it will reflect particularly well if £80m, £90m or £100m transfers are taking place when other footballers are losing their jobs, where people are watching as fans can’t afford to watch them because they might have been furloughed or made redundant or things of that nature,” he told Liverpool.com.
“Having said that, football has always been fairly resilient and lived in it’s own bubble. Apart from the very elite clubs, I think the transfer market will be quite subdued and the number of huge transfers are likely to be few and far between because those types of transfers will only arise if you’ve got a club who is in a very strong position as a buyer and a club who is in a very strong position as a seller, so we’re only talking between the elite clubs themselves.
“If you’ve got clubs further down the leagues, they’re going to have to take offers that they wouldn’t have particularly wanted to accept 12 months ago but for cash flow reasons, you might have had a player go for £60m 12 months ago who will be going for half of that this summer simply because those are market forces. If you try to demand your original asking price, the chances are the buying club will be able to find somebody else cheaper in Europe.”
Tuesday May 12th
Liverpool could be set to receive a significant boost if the Premier League season is completed as police have given their backing for matches to be played in the usual home and away format.
Neutral venues was widely opposed by Premier League clubs on Monday, who are keen to play in their own stadia, and a major boost has been received by key policing figures granting their approval.
Deputy Chief Constable Mark Roberts of South Yorkshire Police, in a statement to the PA news agency, said: “Following a positive meeting between police, government and football last night, we will be jointly exploring a range of options to identify a way forward, which minimises any risks to public safety and unnecessary pressure on public services, but facilitates a sensible restart to the season, to support the economic and morale benefits associated with the sport.”
In addition, The Daily Mail reports that the prospect of finishing the season in their own stadiums is not out of the question, from a policing perspective.
The report claims that as long as clubs can provide assurances to their local constabularies that they will draft in enough stewarding resources to ensure that the two-metre social distancing guidelines are adhered to, completing the season on a home and away basis is not viewed as an insurmountable obstacle.
Should that be the case, and should the clubs be willing to foot the bill to pay for the officers required, playing matches at their original venues would be possible.
Monday May 11th
The UK Government has given the green light for elite sport to return behind closed doors in June, paving the way for the Premier League campaigned to be completed behind closed doors.
In the latest guidelines, it was stated that from June 1st broadcast sports can be played behind closed doors as long as measures are in place to avoid the risk of large-scale social gatherings.
A number of hurdles remain before a ball can be kicked though, as the Premier League’s chief executive Richard Masters later revealed that every club in the division has opposed a plan to use neutral venues for matches.
The league will now speak to the government in an attempt to be granted the ability for matches to be played in home stadia but, given the risk of gatherings outside the stadium, it is a difficult maze to navigate.
At the latest meeting, Masters also confirmed that, for the first time, the possibility of the season being curtailed was discussed – although the intention is for the remaining 92 matches in the Premier League to be played.
Sunday May 10th
As many as eight Premier League clubs are set to oppose the use of neutral venues and are concerned that Project Restart is being pushed through too quickly.
The bottom six have been vocal with their objection to the plan of not using home stadia and the Telegraph reports that two more clubs, said to be significantly higher in the standings, have joined their stance.
This could lead to a highly-charged meeting on Monday, in the Premier League’s latest shareholders videoconference, which follows the address from Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Sunday.
It is expected that the Premier League will present their plans in the latest meeting, with the league then convening a week later for a vote – but at this stage it looks highly unlikely that a proposal to use neutral venues will go ahead.
92 matches in the top-flight still need to be played and neutral venues have been widely reported as being likely to be used, with uncertainty over the government would grant approval for the use of home stadia due to concerns of fans gathering outside of the venues.
A number of players have already expressed their concerns about returning to playing amid the health crisis, while club doctors have also voiced their issues with the proposals – showing the Premier League still has a number of hurdles to overcome.
Saturday May 9th
A working group has been set up by the Premier League to look at ways to enhance fans’ experience whilst watching games on TV.
It could be good news for Liverpool fans should they be resorted to watching the club’s run-in to their first-ever Premier League title on the box.
Matches without supporters in attendance are seen as less attractive to viewers at home, with broadcasters concerned viewing figures could be down when football, as expected, returns behind closed doors.
Premier League clubs will hold a videoconference on Monday to discuss Project Restart in further detail, but no formal vote will take place on the proposal – though sides could be asked to approve some elements of the plans.
And now in a further indication that football in the top-flight is set to return in June, a source close to the Premier League has confirmed to Liverpool.com that a working group has been set up by the Premier League with broadcasters and clubs to look at ways to enhance the TV product.
A number of ideas are being discussed by the group, but nothing, as of yet, has been officially signed off.
But two of the ideas believed to be under consideration are placing cameras in dressing rooms and conducting half-time interviews.
Only around half of the remaining 92 matches are set to be televised in the UK as it stands, though it is hoped that more games will be screened.
Senior government officials will hold a meeting with the Premier League next week and are “hopeful” a plan can be agreed for matches to return as it will be “good for the nation”.