English football suspended until at least April 30 due to coronavirus pandemic

Professional football in England will not resume until April 30 at the earliest due to the coronavirus pandemic.

A statement from the Premier League, EFL and the Football Association, along with the Women’s professional game, the Professional Footballers’ Association and the League Managers’ Association confirmed the extension to the suspension.

The governing bodies had originally agreed a suspension last Friday until early April.

The statement read: “We have collectively agreed that the professional game in England will be further postponed until no earlier than April 30.”

The joint statement said the bodies were united in their commitment to getting the 2019-20 campaign finished, and that the FA board had agreed to extend indefinitely the season end date, which is usually fixed at June 1.

“The FA, Premier League, EFL and women’s professional game, together with the PFA and LMA, understand we are in unprecedented times and our thoughts are with everyone affected by COVID-19,” the statement read.

“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.

“We have collectively supported UEFA in postponing Euro 2020 to create space in the calendar to ensure domestic and European club league and cup matches have an increased opportunity to be played and, in doing so, maintain the integrity of each competition.

“The progress of COVID-19 remains unclear and we can reassure everyone the health and welfare of players, staff and supporters are our priority.

“We will continue to follow government advice and work collaboratively to keep the situation under review and explore all options available to find ways of resuming the season when the conditions allow.”

The Premier League had initially been suspended until April 4, with the EFL suspension originally ending a day earlier.

The EFL held a board meeting on Wednesday and has agreed a £50million short-term relief package to assist cash-strapped clubs during the coronavirus crisis.

The extension of the suspension makes the ambition to have the season finished by June 30 – a stated aim which came out of Tuesday’s UEFA meeting – look increasingly optimistic.

World governing body FIFA has established a working group to look at amendments and temporary dispensations in relation to standard player contracts, which expire on June 30.

Players union FIFPRO has urged authorities in Turkey to reconsider their decision to continue playing.

While the vast majority of European football has shut down, the Turkish SuperLig has continued and Fenerbahce are due to face Kayserispor on Friday before a full weekend of fixtures behind closed doors.

FIFPRO said on Twitter it had written to the SuperLig and Turkish football federation “asking them to urgently reconsider the decision to continue matches and training during the #coronavirus outbreak.

“Numerous foreign players have contacted us to say they are uncomfortable continuing as #COVID19 spreads.”

On Wednesday, John Obi Mikel had his Trabzonspor contract terminated by mutual consent after using Instagram to protest against matches in Turkey being played.

Liverpool are allowing players still undergoing rehabilitation from injuries to re-enter the training ground from Thursday.

Melwood was voluntarily closed after the full squad trained for the last time on Friday, but the PA news agency understands the likes of goalkeeper Alisson Becker (hip), Xherdan Shaqiri (calf), Nathaniel Clyne (knee) and Yasser Larouci (thigh) are being allowed to return for limited periods.

However, they will do so at staggered intervals to minimise the contact they have with each other. All the Premier League leaders’ fully-fit players remain at home training on their own until further notice.

Tottenham are continuing to train as normal, despite the league shutting down.

Jose Mourinho’s men are due in at Hotspur Way on Thursday and Friday, before taking the weekend off. The club will continue to follow Premier League guidance on whether to send their players home.

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