The Premier League suspending its season last month due to the global coronavirus pandemic delayed Liverpool’s inevitable clinching of their first top-flight title in three decades by at least two months.
The Reds, who were six points from winning their first-ever Premier League title, won’t lift the trophy until May at the absolute earliest. The season is suspended through at least April 30, and league executives reportedly will discuss what the remainder of the season could look like in a Friday conference call.
There wasn’t much drama remaining in Liverpool’s title challenge, but the same couldn’t be said for the rest of the Premier League by the time it closed its doors. Every club had at least nine matches remaining, with multiple spots for next season’s European competitions, all three relegation places still up for grabs and bragging rights in some of England’s best rivalries still unsolved
Which storylines would’ve captured our attention? Here are the five we’d be most closely monitoring had the Premier League season continued uninterrupted.
UEFA postponed the finals of its three biggest intercontinental club competitions due to the coronavirus pandemic, the organization announced Monday.
The men's and women's Champions League final and the Europa League final, all of which were scheduled for May, have been pushed back indefinitely. The European soccer governing body said in a statement that "[no] decision has yet been made on rearranged dates."
Twelve teams -- including the Premier League's Manchester City and Chelsea -- remain in contention for the men's Champions League with half of the Round of 16 completed, while the women's Champions League has not yet kicked off its quarter-finals. The Europa League, which Wolverhampton Wanderers and Manchester United still are competing in, completed all but one of its first-leg fixtures from the Round of 16 before UEFA postponed all of last week's matches.
UEFA also announced last week that it was postponing the men's Euro 2020 to 2021 and rescheduling the women's tournament that originally was supposed to occur that year, in large part because of the coronavirus disrupting the calendars of club competitions across the continent. The Premier League, Bundesliga, La Liga, Ligue 1 and Serie A have all paused their seasons in an effort to halt COVID-19's spread.
Though Liverpool have the Premier League title all but wrapped up, spots in next season's Champions League and Europa League and the relegation places still need to be determined ahead of next season. UEFA's competitions this season affect the following campaign, too, as the Europa League winner automatically qualifies for the Champions League.
Beyond where and when the remaining matches this season are played (and who they're played in front of), all of the European leagues will need to address who is playing in said matches. The Premier League alone will have 69 players out of contract on June 30, according to ESPN's Ian Darke, and numerous others are set to have loan deals end at around that time. It's not yet clear if out-of-contract players would become free agents at that time.
European soccer, much like all of the world, still is navigating the knock-on effects of the coronavirus pandemic. That undoubtedly will continue long after play resumes.
Soccer, like the rest of the sporting world, is on pause due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Last week, the Premier League announced it would be suspending games until April 4 due to the global pandemic. As expected, the time without the PL will last much longer as the league announced Thursday that "no professional game in England will be played prior to April 30."
In a joint statement with FA, it was announced the rule stating the season must end by June 1 would be "extended indefinitely" for this season only.
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UEFA already has postponed EURO 2020 in order to create more room in the calendar for domestic and European club matches.
The hope is that the PL can resume sometime after April, but much like the NBA and other sporting leagues, they just have to wait and see how the pandemic is dealt with.