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The Premier League has officially been suspended

Euro 2020 looks set to become Euro 2021 and two-legged Champions League matches may be replaced by one-off fixtures.

Jurgen Klopp has every reason to look worried - the Premier League has been suspended.
Jurgen Klopp has every reason to look worried - the Premier League has been suspended.
Image: Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

Updated Mar 13th 2020, 11:53 AM

Updated at 13.51

ALL PREMIER LEAGUE games are off this weekend and the domestic season has been suspended until 3 April “at the earliest,” it has been confirmed.

As recently as yesterday evening, officials suggested this weekend’s matches would go ahead.

However, news that both Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta and Chelsea player Callum Hudson-Odei have tested positive for coronavirus has prompted a u-turn.

Part of an EFL statement read today: “The FA, Premier League, EFL and Barclays FA Women’s Super League and FA Women’s Championship have collectively agreed to postpone the professional game in England until 3 April at the earliest.

“This action, which will be kept under constant review, has been taken due to the increasing numbers of Clubs taking steps to isolate their players and staff because of the COVID-19 virus.

“The postponements include all matches in the Championship, League One and League Two, as well as all Academy and youth team fixtures.

“In addition, clubs are being advised to suspend indefinitely all non-essential activities which include, but are not limited to, player appearances, training ground visits and fan meetings.

“Whilst the EFL Board has continued to take the advice and guidance offered by the Government and its health advisors, emerging developments mean now is the time to implement football’s contingency plans in response to the crisis.”

Arsenal’s game against Brighton had already been postponed, its London Colney training centre closed, and the entire squad told to self-isolate.

The Premier League last night said: “In light of Arsenal’s announcement tonight confirming that their first team coach Mikel Arteta has tested positive for Covid-19, the Premier League will convene an emergency club meeting tomorrow morning regarding future fixtures.”

It has also been confirmed today that all of next week’s Uefa matches have also been postponed.

The long-term ramifications of this decision, combined with the suspension of the Italian and Spanish leagues, are huge.

The likeliest scenario is that Euro 2020 will quickly be renamed Euro 2021 when Uefa hold a crunch meeting on Tuesday to decide what their next move should be in this crisis. If they decide to postpone the Euros by a year, it will have huge implications for Mick McCarthy and Stephen Kenny, the current Ireland manager and the heir to the throne.

Kenny is due to inherit the senior job on 1 August this year with McCarthy’s contract due to expire once Ireland’s interest in the Euros ended. Now it may not end until 2021.

But leading clubs in England, Spain and Italy are pushing for a year-long delay in the Euros to allow this season’s league and Champions League programmes to be completed.

The alternative is just too grim for Liverpool fans to contemplate – the idea that the champions elect would be denied the trophy because this season comes to a premature end.

By far the best team in England this year, Liverpool are 25 points clear, chasing their first title since 1990. Depriving them of winning it would be an outrage yet some leading executives in rival clubs are already making the case that if there is a prolonged suspension of fixtures then the season should be ruled null and void.

Sunday’s Old Firm game between Celtic and Rangers has also been postponed.

The Irish Football Association have suspended all football activity in Northern Ireland until at least 4 April. It follows news earlier this week that a Linfield player tested positive for coronavirus. 

There is also the possibility that the remaining matches in the Champions League and Europa League be settled on a one-off basis instead of remaining two-legged fixtures.

Additional reporting by Paul Fennessy

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Garry Doyle

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