Premier League reaffirm pledge to finish 2019/20 season

Norwich City's Carrow Road stadium has not hosted football since the end of February due to the coro

Norwich City's Carrow Road stadium has not hosted football since the end of February due to the coronavirus shutdown Picture: Bradley Collyer/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Norwich City and the rest of the Premier League clubs remain committed to resuming the current season - but academy football has now finished.

Discussions on the plan dubbed ‘Project Restart’ took place at a lengthy video conference call on Friday morning where all 20 clubs were represented. A separate meeting was also undertaken between government and public health officials, and medical experts from a range of UK sports, to work out the viability of resuming elite sport during the global pandemic in the weeks ahead.

The Premier League released a statement later on Friday reiterating professional football can only resume when it is ‘safe and appropriate to do so’ but confirmed the league and the clubs are now considering the ‘first tentative steps’ of how to move forward.

It read: “At a meeting of Premier League shareholders today, clubs discussed possible steps towards planning to resume the 2019/20 season, when it is safe and appropriate to do so.

“It was reiterated that the thoughts of all are with those directly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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“Furthermore, the Premier League’s priority is the health and safety of players, coaches, managers, club staff, supporters and the wider community.

“The league and clubs are considering the first tentative moves forward and will only return to training and playing with government guidance, under expert medical advice and after consultation with players and managers.

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“The league welcomed the creation of the government medical working group for a return of elite sport, which met for the first time this morning.

“No decisions were taken at today’s shareholders’ meeting and clubs exchanged views on the information provided regarding ‘Project Restart’.

“It was agreed that the PFA, LMA, players and managers are key to this process and will be further consulted.

“The clubs reconfirmed their commitment to finishing the 2019/20 season, maintaining integrity of the competition and welcomed the government’s support.”

The professional game has been suspended in the UK since March but under the widely-reported ‘Project Restart’ proposal there is a desire to resume the top flight season potentially in early June.

But in a separate statement on Friday afternoon, the Premier League did confirm the Canaries’ academy season at all age groups is now over.

That statement read: “Premier League shareholders today unanimously agreed to curtail the 2019/20 academy games programme.

“This decision, which is independent of any discussions regarding the resumption of the 2019/20 campaign for first-team football, has been taken to give academy staff and their players clarity at this challenging time.

“The curtailment will include all Under-9 to Under-16 games as well as the Under-18 and Under-23 competitions.

“The methodology for determining the final league standings and outcomes for the season will be decided at a future date.

“Additionally, it is intended that any fixtures for the 2020/21 academy season will not commence any earlier than would usually be expected.

“The decision has been made with the support of the EFL, which oversees the programme for Category Three and Category Four clubs (Under-9 to Under-18).”

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