A glimmer of hope for soccer fans — not to mention bookmakers — in these troubled times. UK soccer’s governing body, the Football Association (FA), met on Thursday with English Premier League officials and vowed to find a way of resuming the rest of the 2019-20 season.
The bad news is that the season will not resume on April 3, as soccer chiefs had suggested, when they suspended the season last week. It is now officially on hold until at least April 30.
But the good news is that the FA has decided the season can be “suspended indefinitely,” as it agreed to scrap the rule that stipulated all games must be wrapped up by June 1, paving the way for possible continuation into the summer and beyond.
This has been made possible by the postponement of the UEFA Euro 2020 international tournament until next summer.
“We are in unprecedented times, and our thoughts are with everyone affected by Covid-19,” read a joint statement from the FA, all English pro soccer leagues, the Professional Footballers’ Association, and League Managers Association.
We are united in our commitment to finding ways of resuming the 2019-20 football season and ensuring all domestic and European club league and cup matches are played as soon as it is safe and possible to do so,” it continued.
That’s good news, especially, for Liverpool, which had been flying this year and was 25 points ahead of closest rival Manchester City when play was halted.
With nine games left, it is mathematically possible for Liverpool to win the EPL title after the next game it plays — whenever that may be. It’s a moment it has waited 30 years to relive.
Despite the postponement, Skybet is still offering odds of 1/1000 of Liverpool lifting the trophy.
But with recent talk of the season being declared null and void, there were genuine fears that Liverpool’s extraordinary performance this season may have all been for nothing.
But in handing Liverpool the title, you would also have to relegate three teams.
For the teams battling to avoid relegation, voiding the season might be a tempting prospect — and it yet may prove impossible to complete the season if the coronavirus situation in the UK escalates beyond current expectations.
But to cancel it entirely, making current team positions their official finishing places, would be an injustice for the bottom three — AFC Bournemouth, Aston Villa, Norwich City — which deserve the right to fight for survival.
Arteta, Hudson-Odoi Recovering
Several key EPL figures have already had brushes with the coronavirus, and several teams are known to be self-isolating. Both Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta and Chelsea winger Callum Hudson-Odoi tested positive the night before the EPL was suspended.
Former Liverpool player Charlie Austin, now playing for Championship team West Brom, is also suspected of having the virus.
In an official statement on its website Thursday, Arsenal said Arteta was much improved.
“He’s in good spirits, doing detailed planning with the coaches and speaking to the players regularly,” Arsenal said.
Hudson-Odoi’s symptoms are also understood to have been mild.