When Will Football Return?

When Will Football Return?

Global pandemic COVID-19 has devastated the sporting calendar with a number of major events such as Euro 2020, the Masters and the French Open all being cancelled or moved to a later date.

One of the biggest sporting casualties of the coronavirus is the English Premier League which has been postponed indefinitely. With just nine games left to play, the cancellation has left many clubs in limbo and has resulted in a number of fans wondering whether they’ll get the opportunity to see their side in action again this year.

Lack of Live Matches in the UK

During international breaks, interest tends to turn to the lower divisions with TV companies usually opting to screen League One and League Two matches across the course of the weekend. However, the FA have decided that all professional football leagues will be halted until further notice.

The National League (fifth tier) and below were allowed to continue for an additional seven days, however, the authorities soon decided that it was unsafe to continue staging football matches at any level, and the non-league seasons below the National League have been cancelled altogether and wiped from the history books.

As a result of these mass postponements, the majority of football betting sites have prioritised events that are still going ahead such as the Australian A-League and the Belarussian Premier League. The former has proven particularly popular with UK football fans, with the likes of Adam Le Fondre, Simon Cox, Wes Hoolahan and Roy O’Donovan being familiar names to lower-league supporters.

When Will it Get Back Underway?

Originally, all UK football was cancelled until at least April 3rd, with the FA hoping that the threat of COVID-19 would soon diminish. However, with the virus still spreading fervently across Europe, they were forced to extend this ban until April 30th.

With a number of top-flight players and managers being forced into self-isolation and a handful of names including Chelsea’s Callum Hudson-Odoi and Arsenal boss Mikael Arteta being tested positive for the virus, football may take a fair amount of time to get back on its feet, but some time has now passed since those original worries.

Most clubs haven’t been able to hold any training sessions, and this would inevitably take at least a couple of weeks for everyone to get back up to speed. In Germany, players have already begun training in pairs and the Bundesliga is aiming for a May return.

Although the authorities will be hoping to get the season back underway as soon as possible, April 30th now appears to be a fairly unrealistic timeframe, and some recent reports have suggested that the remainder of the games could be played behind closed doors throughout June.

Could the Season be Officially Cancelled?

With Liverpool currently 25 points clear at the top of the standings, Reds fans will be desperately hoping that season is able to be concluded.

West Ham vice-chair Karren Brady is just one of many high-profile figures who have called for the season to be completely scrapped, however, with the East London side sat just above the drop zone, there could be a small amount of self-interest involved in this statement.

If the season was to end prematurely, the FA would have a number of seismic decisions to make. They would be forced to decide whether the current bottom three (Norwich, Aston Villa and Bournemouth) would be relegated to the Championship or should be given a reprieve.

This will also have a knock-on effect further down the pyramid with high-flying duo Leeds and West Brom being potentially denied the chance to compete in the top flight next season despite being clear at the top of the second tier.

What Does This Mean for Next Season?

At this moment in time, the picture is extremely unclear. If the fixtures were to be completed throughout the summer months, this would likely result in the 2020-21 season being pushed back at least a month.

Some journalists have suggested that a shorter season may be one way of getting around the issue with the scrapping of all major cup competitions helping to alleviate the possibility of any fixture congestion. However, this remains purely speculation at this stage.