As the Coronavirus continues to wreak havoc on people, institutions and nations across the globe, a situation many had hoped and believed would be contained by summer — a return to perceived normalcy — looks set to extend far beyond those initial, overly optimistic estimates.
For football — its players, supporting staff, and fans — this has meant and continues to mean uncertainty, not only about how to wrap up the current season, but at what point and under which conditions next season will take place. The Premier League has been bullish in its conviction that the 2019/20 season will be played to completion, but after Dutch, Belgian and French football associations have — through different methods — elected to prematurely end their campaigns, doubts about the English FAs ability to go through with their intended plans have grown stronger.
Academy football, however — subject to much lower financial stakes, of course — has officially been cancelled for the year, with the EFL and Premier League releasing a joint statement today confirming as much. All levels of competition, from Under-9 to Under-23 will cease, and the methodology to decide final standings has yet to be decided.
As for the Premier League — subject to an £800m loss in the event of an early finish — a final decision is yet to be made, with the league issuing a vague statement regarding their ‘Project Restart’. Health and safety, as well as the input from players, managers and their respective associations is reportedly prioritised, but it is difficult to shake the feeling that financial implications hang heavy over any discussion on the matter, and are the main cause a decision is yet to be made.