FA chairman Greg Clarke gave a speech to Council today in which he discussed the strong desire to finish this season amongst other topics like the financial impact the coronavirus has had on football.
While he, like many others with a stake in the game, is still hopeful of completing this season, he forecasts a scenario that could be devastating for some leagues and clubs in the English pyramid.
However, Clark is issuing a call to arms to all involved in football to help ensure its survival, especially if this season cannot be completed.
Greg Clarke– committed to completing this season
Though during his speech, the chairman maintains his commitment to completing this season in its entirety which includes relegation, promotion, and title winners.
Here is some of what he had to say:
Returning to the issue of uncertainty, no one knows how long the lockdown will last and what social distancing measures will endure even when the daily rate of infection is much reduced.
Our Government is rightly cautious as human life is at stake, and prudence is our only sensible option.
We are committed to finishing the professional football season, as this resolves the issues of promotion and relegation together with title winners on merit.
However, we may not be able to finish the season as football is not our priority, human life is, and we will do as the Government directs as the pandemic unfolds.
Over the weekend, a report claimed that the Premier League was setting plans for a return this June. In fact, the league went so far as to tell clubs to begin preparations for that possibility.
This revelation was in addition to the statement released on Friday in which the league shared its hope that the season could be completed.
“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.”
The reason for this push to keep this season alive has a lot to do with finances. It’s not just wealthy Premier League clubs who are affected by the economic impact of this pandemic.
Clarke continues in his statement with some very sobering thoughts on the future of some football clubs if this season is wiped out and contingency plans are not in place:
Football faces economic challenges beyond the wildest imagination of those who run it. The pandemic will be followed by its economic consequences, and all business sectors will suffer.
We face the danger of losing clubs and leagues as finances collapse. Many communities could lose the clubs at their heart with little chance of resurrection.
In the face of this unprecedented adversity, all the stakeholders within the game from players, fans, clubs, owners, and administrators need to step up and share the pain to keep the game alive.
Everyone should understand that the Premier League clubs are not immune from the impact of this, and whilst they are impacted to different degrees depending on their cost base, the potential overall financial impact is huge.
We must have a plan to ensure that English football is not decimated should this season be lost and next season blighted. We hope we do not need this plan as we are all determined to finish the professional football season; however, we would be fools not to develop such a contingency plan.
Those that lost their clubs because English football did not rise to the challenge would rightly judge us harshly.