‘Football is not our priority’: FA admit season may not finish – which could cost Liverpool title

The Football Association is prepared to end the 2019/20 season because of the coronavirus pandemic that would cost Liverpool the Premier League title, with chairman Greg Clarke admitting that “football is not our priority” given the threat to human life.

Under the current plan, the Premier League and English Football League (EFL) are due to resume whenever the Government advises conditions are safe to do so, while the FA Council are due to rule on a decision to cancel the lower leagues following the outbreak of Covid-19.

In a long statement that expresses the gravity of the issue ahead of the sport, Clarke warns that there is a genuine “danger of losing clubs and leagues as finances collapse”, with the governing body expecting to lose as much as £150m over the course of the next two years.

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But despite the plans to finish the current season when possible – a move that echoes Uefa’s desire to complete the 2019/20 campaign before the start of 2020/21 – Clarke admitted that the FA are drawing together contingency plans to scrap the season altogether.

“We are committed to finishing the professional football season as this resolves the issues of promotion and relegation together with title winners on merit,” Clarke said. 

“However, we may not be able to finish the season as football is not our priority, human life is, and we will do as the Government directs as the pandemic unfolds.”

Should conditions prove impossible to finish the season, runaway Premier League leaders Liverpool may miss out on their first title in 30 years, while the process for which teams are promoted and relegated could become a very confusing one that would open the door to potential legal action.

The sport is also seeing its image tarnished due to the ongoing dispute over player wage cuts, with the Professional Footballers’ Association’s reluctance to reach an agreement with clubs over a universal decision attracting criticism from figures both within and outside of football.

Clarke appeared to try and urge all parties to put their differences aside in order to come up with a contingency planned that worked for everyone, given the months ahead will be far from painless.


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“Football faces economic challenges beyond the wildest imagination of those who run it,” Clarke said. “The pandemic will be followed by its economic consequences and all business sectors will suffer.

“We face the danger of losing clubs and leagues as finances collapse. Many communities could lose the clubs at their heart with little chance of resurrection.

“In the face of this unprecedented adversity, all the stakeholders within the game from players, fans, clubs, owners and administrators need to step up and share the pain to keep the game alive.

“Everyone should understand that the Premier League clubs are not immune from the impact of this and whilst they are impacted to different degrees depending on their cost base, the potential overall financial impact is huge.

“We must have a plan to ensure that English football is not decimated should this season be lost and next season blighted. We hope we do not need this plan as we are all determined to finish the professional football season, however we would be fools not to develop such a contingency plan. Those that lost their clubs because English football did not rise to the challenge would rightly judge us harshly.”

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