As things stand, football is on hold. In England, the Premier League has now acknowledged that a previously suggested restart in May will not be possible, effectively postponing further action indefinitely. La Liga and Serie A had already made such decisions.
While there is an understanding and consensus that football, and professional sport in general, can only resume once it is safe to do so, there remains extreme uncertainty when that might be and what the wider implications would be for campaigns running long.
For countries who typically observe an autumn/winter/spring calendar, 30 June is usually the date which marks the formal end of each season. Safely finishing by then will be impossible, but incoming FIFA measures are expected to provide much needed flexibility.
According to The Athletic, FIFA will confirm an ‘indefinite extension’ to the 2019/20 season, which would grant freedom to each individual country’s association to finish as appropriate.
As part of that, the dates of the summer transfer window will be revised and clubs will be allowed to temporarily extend contracts due to expire on 30 June as necessary.
The Athletic notes that the worst-case scenario ‘null and void’ option is not completely off the table, but the flexibility that will be afforded significantly reduces the chances of cancellation.
In the Premier League in particular, pay cuts and wage deferrals have dominated headlines since Thursday when health secretary Matt Hancock called on footballers to ‘do their bit’.
While such comments were initially popular with many members of the public, it also brought a negative response from those who acknowledge the situation is incredibly complicated.
The PFA warned that a proposed 30% pay cut over 12 months would actually cost the government £200m in lost tax revenue. That could be more detrimental than, for example, players retaining full pay and donating substantial sums direct to hospitals and NHS trusts.
This is the most coherent statement PFA have put out throughout this. And reflects what you hear all the time from players: YES we will take a pay cut. BUT we want it to go to NHS, club staff, Leagues 1 and 2. NOT to dividends, £100m transfer fees, £3m bonuses for chairmen https://t.co/5JjELiBuGU
— Rob Draper (@draper_rob) April 4, 2020
In a Sunday Times column, former England captain Wayne Rooney called Hancock ‘out of order’, asking why footballers have been scapegoated, as well as criticising the Premier League for announcing plans to consult players over a league-wide 30% pay cut when talks over potential wage deferrals were already well underway for many.
The Athletic adds that footballers are concerned that a 30% pay cut or deferral will serve to benefit the club owners more than non-playing staff or the NHS and other crucial public services.