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Premier League suspend indefinitely and throw Non-League a lifeline

Premier League

National League bosses are considering their next steps to come through the coronavirus crisis after the Premier League season was also suspended indefinitely on Friday.

An emergency meeting of all 20 PL clubs by video decided England’s top flight would not resume until “it is safe and appropriate to do so” soon after 3.30pm.

The Premier League also threw Non-League’s top two tiers a financial lifeline by bringing forward the solidarity payment they normally pay in August as part of a £125 million donation to the English Football League.

£20 million is also being donated to the National Health Service as all Premier League stars are asked to take a 30 percent pay cut in order to protect jobs in the pro game.

Friday’s meeting was scheduled before PL clubs started coming under increasingly heavy fire for taking advantage of the government’s job retention scheme by furloughing their non-playing staff while continuing to pay the full salaries of their millionaire stars.

The National League, originally suspended until 3 April, opted to extend the 2019/20 season “indefinitely” on Tuesday. Their next move is complicated by the competition’s links to the professional game through promotion and relegation from the English Football League.

The rest of Non-League football at Steps 3 to 7 was terminated with immediate effect by the Football Association last Thursday, a decision which has sparked huge controversy after the season was declared null and void with no promotion or relegation.

The PL meeting was held after European football’s governing body Uefa wrote a joint letter with the European Clubs’ Association to the continent’s 55 domestic bodies urging them not to abandon their seasons.

As it stands, the Premier League, EFL, National League, National League North and South and Women’s Super League still aim to complete the 2019/20 season.

“Any decision of abandoning domestic competitions is, at this stage, premature and not justified,” said the letter.

The top flight in Belarus is the only competition in Europe currently playing on in the face of the worldwide pandemic.

Full Premier League statement

At a meeting of Premier League Shareholders today, clubs discussed in detail how to respond to the COVID-19 global pandemic.

First and foremost, it was reaffirmed that the overriding priority is to aid the health and wellbeing of the nation and our communities, including players, coaches, managers, club staff and supporters.

Season restart

It was acknowledged that the Premier League will not resume at the beginning of May – and that the 2019/20 season will only return when it is safe and appropriate to do so.
The restart date is under constant review with all stakeholders, as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic develops and we work together through this very challenging time.
The Premier League is working closely with the whole of professional football in this country, as well as with the Government, public agencies and other relevant stakeholders to ensure the game achieves a collaborative solution.
With this, there is a combined objective for all remaining domestic league and cup matches to be played, enabling us to maintain the integrity of each competition.
However, any return to play will only be with the full support of Government and when medical guidance allows.
The sporting and financial implications for Premier League clubs as well as for The FA, EFL and National League were considered at today’s meeting.

Consulting players

In the face of substantial and continuing losses for the 2019/20 season since the suspension of matches began, and to protect employment throughout the professional game, Premier League clubs unanimously agreed to consult their players regarding a combination of conditional reductions and deferrals amounting to 30 per cent of total annual remuneration.
This guidance will be kept under constant review as circumstances change.
The League will be in regular contact with the PFA, and the union and the LMA will join a meeting which will be held tomorrow between the League, players and club representatives.
Solidarity with clubs below PL
Discussions also took place regarding financial relief for clubs in the short term and while there is no single solution, measures are to be put in place to immediately deal with the impact of falling cash flow.
Critically, the League unanimously voted to advance funds of £125 million to the EFL and National League as it is aware of the severe difficulties clubs throughout the football pyramid are suffering at this time.

Supporting NHS

Further to that assistance, the League remains committed to supporting the National Health Service, its staff and helping people in communities, not least those who are most vulnerable.
The League, clubs, players and managers express huge appreciation for the heroic efforts of NHS staff and all other key workers who are carrying out critical jobs in such difficult circumstances.
In consultation with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, the Premier League is immediately committing £20 million to support the NHS, communities, families and vulnerable groups during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This includes a direct financial contribution to the NHS and funds to enable clubs to refocus their efforts and develop significant outreach programmes to help communities, including those most in need.
This funding will enable both immediate and longer-term support during the crisis.

Clubs supporting communities

In response to COVID-19, Premier League clubs have been supporting tens of thousands of people in their communities each and every day through targeted activity including donations to foodbanks, telephone calls to the elderly, food parcels delivered to the vulnerable and a wide range of free resources to support wellbeing and education.
Many Premier League clubs are also working closely with their local NHS Trusts to provide valuable support through the provision of resources, volunteers and facilities.
Now, more than ever, clubs are playing a vital role to support the wellbeing of those in their communities and alleviate pressure on critical health services.

Promoting public health messages

Working closely with the Department of Health and Social Care, Public Health England and the NHS, the wide reach and appeal of the Premier League and our clubs will continue to be used to promote important public health messaging throughout this crisis.

The Premier League would like to reiterate that the thoughts of all our clubs are with all those directly affected by COVID-19.

Make sure you get your copy of The Non-League Paper this week for all the latest news in one place on the impact of the coronavirus crisis on society and football’s fightback.

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