Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Contracts, neutral venues, virus testing – where does the Premier League stand?

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters has shed more light on the details of yesterday’s five-hour meeting between its shareholders.

Everything from neutral stadiums to player safety was discussed as ‘Project Restart’ was dissected by the top flight’s 20 clubs.

While there’s an air of optimism that football can return in June, it’s clear that many issues need to be resolved quickly.

We’ve jotted down what Masters had to say on the biggest sticking points and provided a little context for each.

TV revenue loss

“Whatever happens, there’s going to be significant loss of revenue for clubs. That is inevitable.”

Finishing the season behind closed doors isn’t going to be enough to fulfil all the stipulations of the original contracts with broadcasters who, unsurprisingly, are trying to recoup some of their outlay as a result of this lengthy hiatus. The BBC says Richard Masters informed clubs they should expect to repay an estimated £340m to domestic and international broadcasters. If that bill is shared equally, it’ll mean a bill of £17 million. Whether they’ll need to stump up the cash immediately or if it’ll be shaved off their next pay cheque remains to be seen.

Player contracts

“What was agreed was that players can extend their contracts until the end of the season. It must be agreed by both parties.”

An agreement has been reached that player contracts ending on 30 June can be extended to the end of the 2019-20 season, whenever that may be. The main stipulation is that the agreement is reached before 23 June. In Arsenal’s case, that will mean extending the loan deals of Dani Ceballos, Pablo Mari and Cedric Soares. While the only ‘first team’ Gunner out of contract this summer is Matt Macey, the Premier League have been concerned about the situation because up to a fifth of its players could have been out of contract – and thereby free agents – in the middle of a possible run-in.

It’s worth pointing out that any players returning from their loan – for example, William Saliba who has no football in France because the season is over – can’t feature for us this season.

Return to training

“It is possible, yes.”

That was Masters’ response when asked if players could resume training by next Monday. In what form training would be allowed, it’s not clear, but if clubs are eyeing a mid-June resumption then standard sessions – done as a collective and featuring ball work – will have to start soon. Even if they did start on Monday we’re talking about less than a month to get players back to match fitness.

Player safety

“We think we are going to be able to create that safe environment. But we need to talk to players about it. So as I said earlier, it is right the players voice their concerns. It is right that they will have concerns and questions and we need to hear those first.”

While players haven’t been sitting on their arses – we know Arsenal sent its first team squad everything they need to follow personal fitness programmes – the fact they’ve gone two months without matches and their usual high-intensity group sessions mean they are at greater risk of succumbing to an injury if forced into action prematurely.

They, like everyone else, are also at risk of being infected by coronavirus. Prior to yesterday’s meeting, club medics asked for clarity over medical protocols, testing and player welfare. The Telegraph (£) reported last week that The Doctors Laboratory (TDL), part of the Sonic Healthcare group that operates testing for the Bundesliga, has been selected to carry out testing of all Premier League players at a cost of £4 million.

The Athletic says that this drive-through process began this morning at Wolves’ training ground. Mouth and nose swabs have been taken and will be processed in London. With testing will come further positive cases. At the weekend Brighton confirmed a third player had contracted the virus.

Most players are said to be itching to get back to action, but that doesn’t mean all of them will be. If there are concerns about a return you can be sure the PFA will raise them but the Premier League aren’t expecting their plans to be vetoed.

Neutral stadiums

“All clubs would prefer to play at home and they accept it’s an issue to be addressed. That pretty much summarises it.”

While the government has advised that matches should take place at eight to 10 neutral venues to minimise the strain on the police and authorities, no agreement has been reached with the clubs on the issue. The bottom six, fearful of losing home advantage with relegation looming, are not in favour while other clubs have concerns, especially if the situation were to carry into next season.

With clubs in Germany allowed to play in their own arenas, the Premier League has said it’ll talk to the government about maintaining home and away fixtures. The Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said recently that the return of sport “would lift spirits of the nation”. With an agreement over neutral venues unlikely, you suspect the Premier League will play on this if necessary. Despite the potential safety issues will the government want to look like the big blocker to football’s return? Probably not.

Whatever happens, it seems pretty likely there won’t be fans at matches in 2020 and possibly until there’s a vaccine.

Return of matches

“A really strong collective will to complete the season remains”.

The government outlined plans that could see sports resume behind closed doors from 1 June, if its criteria for easing Step One of its lockdown restrictions are met.

Clubs and players won’t be ready for that date but it does sound like games could resume in a month’s time, assuming all the issues we’re listing here can be resolved.

If they can’t then curtailing the season, isn’t off the table. Nobody wants that, not even the struggling clubs, because the FA have hinted that they will enforce relegation based on sporting merit (current standings / points-per-game).

Next steps

More talks. More talks. More talks. And a possible return to training.

According to the BBC, there are a lot of meetings ahead…

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Lord Peter Of Highbury

No fans at matches in 2020? And yet there are 2 very simple solutions that I’m shocked that no one – especially axing PFA supremo Gordon Taylor – has yet proposed. 1 – To lower the risk of fans being exposed to the risk of Covid 19, the immediate re-development of all stadiums to twice their current size so that fans can sit further apart. Bigger exits and vast tracts of surrounding land to avoid crowding on entry and exit with huge socially distanced bicycle parks, and massive bars with 60,000 individual cubicles (incorporate a personal WC) 2 – Forget… Read more »

canon fodder

Very funny! I would love to have my own cubicle in a bar…


Anyone know why clubs would want home advantage if the games are behind closed doors?


I guess there is a familarity in playing in your own stadium and there is no travel to get there. But you are right – the main point of a home advantage is supposedly the supporters

A Different George

The other advantage of playing at home that has been demonstrated in many sports is that referees favour home sides (unconsciously, no conspiracy). But that bias has itself almost certainly been due to the crowds, so not at all clear it would exist in an empty stadium.

Hank Scorpio

And tailoring pitch conditions to suit


They don’t really care about home advantage, they’re just playing politics. All the teams opposing neutral venues are teams near the relegation zone; they all want the season null and voided without any teams relegated. So they will oppose anything and everything to get the season cancelled and keep their place in the top flight for next season.


Mostly team in drop relegation zone , wanting season to be voided. Aslessens time to complete league games if they tie up and delay re start. So stay up. ( Arsenal we would be back in Europa League should it be able to be played )

Neutral venues best IMO, as or local fans can hang around outside stadiums and watch on their phones .. Liverpool mayor especially worried ..about non social distancing celebrations


It’s difficult not to imagine that, whatever the FA want or say, any enforced relegation based on an incomplete season will not be challenged in court. The rewards so great, the damages so disastrous, that an arbitrary decision on PPG or whatever method they determine (which, incidentally, would not follow their own precedent of voiding the bulk of the non-league season) seems certain to be tested in court. Note: not a lawyer, but making up rules as you go along, in contravention of established regulations, doesn’t usually impress judges.


Why are they talking about home court advantage when there will be no fans..?

It’s sad to say, but without fans I think the season should be voided..

No matter how much you miss football, the lives
of regular people should be more important than
the restart of any football league.


Comfort of your own “home”? Less travel for a player say going from Southampton to Manchester for instance


From BBC: “Meanwhile, new data from YouGov showed 73% of 2,098 British adults surveyed would not see the return of football as a boost to their morale, with 19% saying it would.”


No Arseblog article on the Ian Wright abuse from yesterday? At least the scumbag in question has handed himself in to the police.


Yes, I wondered about that too. Its not as if there is a glut of other Arsenal stories about, is there? The Irish police are sending a file to their Director of Public Prosecutions so the alleged perpetrator Patrick O’Brien will hopefully get his day in court.


1 – We’re not giving the racist the oxygen of publicity.

2 – It is advisable not to allow people to comment freely on a case which could be going towards prosecution, especially as it’s happening in my jurisdiction.


Thanks Arseblog, but I also know the law so chose my words wisely.


I appreciate the league laying a groundwork to return. Just because they have a target date doesn’t mean it will happen if things get worse, but you’ll never get re-started without some type of framework to make it happen


Unfortunately there are no easy answers to any sports league opening up again from some many perspectives. Players, coaches, executives, etc in major sports leagues should be expected to take pay cuts just as so many people in other industries are taking (and they are lucky to have jobs) because the reality of the situation is that revenues in so many industries are going to be way, way down for some time.

Brandon Weli



Of the 22,049 people who have died with Covid19 in English hospitals, only 31 were aged under 40, with no underlying health conditions (0.13%) 207 people aged between 40-60 with no pre-existing health conditions have died. For comparison, In 2018, 1,194 people under 60 died on the roads, but that doesn’t stop people driving or crossing the street. for every 1% unemployment goes up, 1,500 people are estimated to die, this isn’t a zero sum game, and down the track, a lack of screening for cancers and other illnesses will see deaths spiral. Covid19 like most viruses, wipes out the… Read more »


Just come out and say it: you view vulnerable/elderly people as expendable, and that the economy is more important. The hard statistics – as you call them – are that 50,000+ people have died in the UK from a virus which leaves you choking to death or from organ failure. None of this is about media ratings, you sound like a deranged Trumpian when you come out with bullshit like that. This isn’t about lefties or the media or Guardian readers or any of the other categories you constantly sneer at while refusing to acknowledge that your favourite fat Tory has… Read more »


Blogs I’m suggesting people use their initiative, and society functions on freewill, rather than government interference. The sooner the healthy under 45s develop an immunity to this, the quicker the vulnerable become safer. A depressingly large number in society seem unable to get their head around the idea, we can never be completely safe from Covid19, and the virus is here to stay, in the same way you can never be completely safe from cancer, road accidents, and any other ways that people die each day. But you can take precautions, and use common sense. The idea we can stay… Read more »


‘cuckolds’, get fucked with that alt-right stupidity. And the absurd categorisation of left-leaning people as one of two extreme things just shows you’re either a closed-minded individual, or a troll.

Or both.

I’m all for discussion, debate and differences of opinion, but I won’t allow this kind of nonsense on this site.

Last edited 4 years ago by arseblog

Also: “In 2018, 1,194 people under 60 died on the roads, but that doesn’t stop people driving or crossing the street.”

You don’t catch being knocked down by a car or getting into a car crash from other people, FFS.

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