The Football Association (FA) has offered Wembley and St George’s Park, the national football centre, as possible venues to help the English Premier League complete the season, the Times of London has reported, citing a source familiar with the matter.
The top flight has acknowledged that the competition will not restart at the beginning of next month and the remainder of the campaign “will only return when it is safe and appropriate to do so”.
According to the Daily Mail, the contractual cut-off point to finish the season is July 16 and, if the campaign is not completed by then, broadcasters Sky, BT and international rights holders could demand rebates of as much as £762 million (S$1.35 billion).
The deals for players in the final year of their contract also ends on July 30, so that is another issue that needs to be worked out to preserve the integrity of the competition.
As such, the Premier League are drawing up alternative plans to ensure a satisfactory conclusion to the season, which was halted on March 13 owing to the coronavirus pandemic.
Staging matches behind closed doors is said to be the preferred option, given the restrictions on mass gatherings to slow down the spread of Covid-19.
Travelling between stadiums is also a no-go as the British government has introduced measures to limit movement during the crisis.
Away games mean players have to stay overnight in hotels and in turn, increases the chances of contracting or spreading the disease.
Wembley and St George’s Park, therefore, could be ideal neutral venues as not only can they both host multiple games on the same day, but having two “base camps” would also keep travelling to a minimum.
The latter, which has a hotel with 228 guest rooms on site as well as 13 pitches, five of which are floodlit, can also double up as a shielded training centre.
While the Premier League weighs its options, an early resumption of matches is not expected to be on the cards, with The Times claiming that June was “a more realistic return” to action, especially with players yet to undergo mass Covid-19 testing.
“We only have a handful of tests and are restricting ourselves to testing players only if they show symptoms,” a Premier League executive, who declined to be named, said.
“We understand that the National Health Service should get priority, but it appears we are a month behind Germany in terms of being able to return.”
Players in the top-two tiers of German football have resumed training, albeit in small groups, with the Bundesliga aiming to restart by next month.