What can City expect from Premier League meeting?
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Norwich City will be represented at another emergency Premier League meeting on Thursday as top level football tries to plot a route through the coronavirus shutdown.
The domestic game in England at the professional level was abruptly halted last week, until April 3 at the earliest, as the global pandemic spread.
But there is unlikely to be any further clarity at the latest meeting of English football’s top brass beyond a commitment to explore a workable solution, with the spread of coronavirus in the UK not expected to reach a peak for weeks.
Norwich will go into the meeting with an open mind. The club’s hierarchy is willing to explore all viable options in a bid to find a workable solution, tied to the on going public health advice from the government and the Premier League.
A number of figures in the game have suggested potential scenarios to try and resolve the impasse. One of the latest, carried by some sections of the national media on Thursday ahead of the meeting, would be to proceed with behind-closed-doors games when it is safe to do so at selected venues in the Midlands.
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Matches would be able to take place at various times during the day with the broadcasters covering the games in a bid to complete the season.
West Ham vice-chairman Karren Brady had previously used her Sunday national newspaper column to suggest the current season should be declared ‘null and void’ with no relegation or league title awarded to champions-elect Liverpool.
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Brighton chief executive Paul Barber, meanwhile, has publicly supported a call for discussions on a 22-team Premier League for the new season. City and their other survival rivals would earn a relegation reprieve in that scenario, with the top two in the Championship at present, West Brom and Leeds, invited to join an expanded English top flight.
“We don’t want to go down this route,” he said. “But if we cannot complete the season we have got to look at quite radical solutions to try and get over a short-term hump. We don’t know whether or not we will be able to even complete the fixture list.
“It is a possibility, and an option, to leave the current 20 teams in the Premier League this season and bring just two teams up.”
The EFL held a meeting for their member clubs on Wednesday and resolved to try and finish the season, but were unable to give a resumption date.
A statement read: “The primary objective, in order to protect competition integrity, is to deliver a successful conclusion to the 2019/20 season, subject to the over-riding priority around health and well-being. Plans continue to be developed on the agreed principle that it is in the best interests of the EFL and clubs to complete the current season at the appropriate time.
“The EFL is continuing regular dialogue with the government and relevant health authorities and, as and when more information is known regarding the scale and extent of the coronavirus outbreak in this country, a decision will be taken on the resumption of the league’s fixtures.
“Conversations will continue with the EFL’s counterparts at the FA, the Premier League, the PFA and the LMA to ensure football achieves a joined-up and collaborative approach.”
The EFL also outlined a package of prospective financial measures to try and help clubs cope with the prolonged stoppage.
Uefa postponed this summer’s European Championships until 2021 on Tuesday after a video conference call with member associations and other key stakeholders.
European football’s governing body released their own statement suggesting their move could help to complete domestic competitions.