A hiatus to the 2019/20 Premier League season is expected to be declared amidst the accelerating coronavirus outbreak, with the organising body of the competition holding an emergency club meeting this Friday 13. It marks a dramatic turn of events, following a statement at 21:30 (GMT) that had proclaimed the weekend’s top tier fixtures “will go ahead as scheduled”.
Officials will meet at approximately 10:30am (GMT) at their London headquarters at the Brunel Building in Paddington, with clubs communicating via videolink.
The English Football League, the organisation that encapsulates the Championship, League One, and League Two is also set to suspend the respective campaigns, with the speculation of the summer off-season being deployed to resume matches, the UEFA European Football Championship becoming increasingly likely to move to 2021.
The high-profile case of Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has already postponed this weekend’s EPL game between Brighton & Hove Albion and Arsenal, with the Gunners’ London Colney training centre now closed. Manchester City left-back Benjamin Mendy has placed himself in self-isolation after family members’ diagnosis, whilst Chelsea’s Callum Hudson-Odoi took to social media to announce that he has suffered from the virus and has already recovered.
Three unnamed players from Leicester City have been tested, while the whole first team and staff at Everton are also now in isolation.
The Serie A in Italy, Spanish La Liga, Dutch Eredivisie, Portugal’s Primeira Liga and the MLS in the USA have already taken measures to postpone fixtures for the foreseeable future, with all football-related activities being cancelled.
In France, the games in Ligue 1 were due to continue to be held without spectators, but a late announcement on Thursday 12 March from the French Football Federation President Noël Le Graët proclaimed that they too would be following suit. The Danish FA will not sanction any games to go forward until at least March 29, while the Bundesliga and the German football federation (DFB) will meet on Monday 16 March to decide how to resume the season.
The UEFA Champions League and Europa leagues have now been cancelled for next week. Earlier in the week Paris Saint-Germain’s win over Borussia Dortmund being played at an empty Parc des Princes whilst Manchester City’s second-leg tie with Real Madrid will not go ahead after a positive test from a member of the latter’s basketball team.
A statement from UEFA said: "In the light of developments due to the spread of Covid-19 in Europe and related decisions made by different governments, all Uefa club competitions matches scheduled next week are postponed.
"This includes the remaining Uefa Champions League, round of 16 second leg matches scheduled on 17 and 18 March 2020; all Uefa Europa League, round of 16 second leg matches scheduled on 19 March 2020; all Uefa Youth League, quarter-final matches scheduled on 17 and 18 March 2020.
"Further decisions on when these matches take place will be communicated in due course. As a consequence of the postponements, the Uefa Champions League and Uefa Europa League quarter-final draws scheduled for 20 March have also been postponed."