The Premier League is currently working on a plan which could see the current season resumed behind closed doors as early as May, in order to complete the campaign by 16 July and avoid any television contract rebates.
Elite football in the United Kingdom was suspended in March due to the coronavirus outbreak and the competition is currently suspended until 30 April, but details of the restart will be discussed by Premier League clubs in a meeting this week.
The Premier League is in desperate need to conclude all the matches by 16 July to avoid breaking contractual agreements with TV broadcasters which would result in clubs being forced to pay significant fees in rebates.
According to the Daily Mail, under the terms of the TV contracts the deadline to finish this season is 16 July and if the campaign is not completed by then, Sky Sports, BT Sport and the international rights-holders could demand rebates worth around £762m. The Premier League has obligations to broadcasters who pay a combined amount of £3billion-a-year to air live matches – a deal which expires on July 31, with next season’s deal kicking in the following day.
The £762m figure is the amount that Premier League clubs share from global TV deals – although this sum is not distributed equally. So, should the season fail to conclude by the cut-off date, it’s believed that top clubs will be required to pay larger fees than sides lower down the table.
With teams still to play nine or ten matches each, a restart at the beginning of May would allow for leeway if clubs are hit by more cases of the virus.
However, finishing the season by 16 July may avoid breaking TV contracts, but for professionals in the final year of their player contracts with their clubs, 30 June is the date they officially become free agents.
Tottenham striker Harry Kane has called for the season to be scrapped if the campaign goes beyond the end of June due to the situation with player contracts but this eventuality is not touched on in the latest Premier League plans.
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If we don’t finish this season we will have to refund about £750 million to the TV companies. But if we don’t play next season, we could lose £3 Billion. If it comes to an ‘either/or’ situation, the obvious choice would be to scrap this season and start all over again when it’s finally safe.
But if we don’t kick off until October, we would still struggle to complete a full season in time for next summer’s European Championships.
If there is no football for another six months, the game will lose hundreds of millions of pounds. There would be no way we could complete the present season and play the next one. It would have to be one or the other.Premier League Official on the scenarios and impact of the timeframe if and when football can be resumed
The suspension of top-flight matches has seen broadcasters lose subscribers and it has led to TV chiefs pushing the Premier League for clarity on their plans to finish the season.
But a return to football in May seems unlikely following recent comments from England’s deputy chief medical officer.
On Sunday, Doctor Jenny Harries admitted it could be six months before the UK ‘returns to normal’ amid the current lockdown.West Ham co-owner Karren Brady and Manchester United legend Rio Ferdinandhave suggested the season should be declared null and void.