Is UEFA's plan to finish the EPL season by June 30th pure madness?

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Amid the growing COVID-19 crisis, the Premier League has said it will start no earlier than April 30th. UEFA and the European Club Association have both committed to finishing all domestic European seasons by June 30th.

Many Premier League clubs are lobbying for a cutoff date for the season, and a primary reason for a June 30th deadline is player contracts: 69 players are out of contract on that date, including Willian, David Silva, and Jan Vertoghen. And all season-long loans officially end then too. However, not only is a June 30th finish unrealistic, but it could pose serious problems if it is attempted.

For starters, given the way the pandemic is unfolding in the UK and Europe, a restart on April 30th seems pretty optimistic. And even if games are played behind closed doors by that point, it would require teams to play roughly every three days to complete the season. Some teams would have to play even more than that: Manchester City, for example, have 10 league games left, three potential FA Cup matches, plus four potential Champions League games. That’s 17 games to squeeze in before June 30th.

Playing that many games so quickly would increase the risk of player injuries, an issue further compounded as players will have virtually no time to warm up with training or friendlies, after months without a normal routine. So, the Premier League has two options: firstly, they can cut the season short and maybe play a few games before June 30th.

Not only would this spoil the integrity of the competition and potentially tarnish—or take away—Liverpool’s title win, but it could also be very costly, as it’s been reported that Premier League clubs may be forced to pay back over $800m in TV revenue for games they didn’t play. Or, secondly, they could restart the league whenever it is safe, and let it finish when it finishes.

As Wayne Rooney said in his most recent Sunday Times column, “The fair thing is to finish 2019-20 – even if we have to lose next season in the process.” So, Premier League: let’s not rush things. Let’s get this season completed properly, but when it’s safe to do so.

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