LONDON (AP) — The Premier League was suspended indefinitely Friday following a meeting of the 20 soccer clubs where a series of financial measures were discussed amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The English league had given a tentative return date of April 30 but that was pushed back with a statement saying the “2019-20 season will only return when it is safe and appropriate to do so” and only with the full support of government and medical guidance.
“There is a combined objective for all remaining domestic league and cup matches to be played,” the league said, “enabling us to maintain the integrity of each competition.”
Teams still have nine or 10 games left to play, with Liverpool — the leader by 25 points — still needing two more wins to clinch its first title since 1990.
UEFA, in a letter signed by the European Clubs’ Association and the European Leagues, has urged members not to abandon their competitions. Halting leagues without approval from UEFA could see teams blocked from qualifying for the Champions League and Europa League as they are determined based on final positions in domestic standings.
In a statement released after the 20 teams met by video conference, the league said it voted to advance funds of 125 million pounds ($150 million) to clubs in the English Football League and fifth-tier National League, many of which are struggling to cope with the financial consequences of the suspension of matches.
It also committed 20 million pounds ($24 million) to Britain’s National Health Service.
At the end of a week when Premier League players came under growing public pressure to forego some of their salaries to help pay club staff, the league said clubs had agreed to consult players over a wage deduction or deferral of 30% “in the face of substantial and continuing losses.”
“The league will be in regular contact with the Professional Footballers’ Association,” read the statement, “and the union will join a meeting which will be held tomorrow between the league, players and club representatives.”