The 2019/2020 season of the English Premiere League may not be completed due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, said Greg Clarke, chairman of the English Football Association following an emergency meeting yesterday. Clarke said that there are fears that the tournament, which has been suspended until 3 April, will not be resumed this year due to the growing number of COVID-19 cases in Britain. As in most European countries, the football season ends in May; however, the UK government has said that the coronavirus outbreak is not expected to peak until mid-June.
If Clarke’s fears come true, the suspension of the competition indefinitely may result in colossal financial losses for the Premier League, UEFA, and broadcasting companies. According to The Times, the Premier League alone may lose almost $1 billion. "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'", a senior broadcasting figure told The Times.
The potential suspension of the Premier League will also damage broadcasters, which may lose revenue due to a drop in advertising and subscribers.
The development comes as all football matches have been suspended in the United Kingdom following news that Chelsea star Callum Hudson-Odoi and Arsenal manager Mikel Areta have tested positive for the coronavirus, while several other players have been put in quarantine after contacting people with the disease.
What happens next?
Despite the season potentially being delayed, media reports say that it may be brought to a successful conclusion. The Telegraph reported that Liverpool, which is on top of the League with a 25-point gap, may be awarded with its first title in 30 years as the club’s executive claimed that there is no opposition among the other clubs to such a scenario.
When it comes to relegation and promotion, the situation is unclear. The Telegraph reported that one scenario suggests that two top teams in the championship - Leeds and West Brom – may be promoted to the Premier League next season and hence the number of teams in the tournament may grow to 22.