England captain Harry Kane has added his voice to the growing calls for the Premier League season to be scrapped if it is not completed by 30 June amid the ongoing coronavirus crisis.
There is continuing uncertainty over the 2019-20 campaign, with 92 of the 380 total fixtures remaining outstanding but the Premier League announced in a statement on 20 March that while FA rules usually call for a season’s completion by 1 June, the FA’s board “has agreed for this limit to be extended indefinitely for the 2019-20 season in relation to professional football”.
But after the FA declared all leagues below the National League levels null and void last week, there have been calls in some quarters for the same to be done at professional level, with Kane the latest to promote the idea of calling it quits by the end of June.
Speaking to Jamie Redknapp in an Instagram Live interview on Sunday, Tottenham striker Kane explained, “For me, we do need to try to finish the season, but there needs to be a point where enough is enough.
“Probably the limit for me is the end of June. If the season’s not completed by the end of June we need to look at the options and just look forward to next season.”
The end of June has been used as a blanket finish date by many opposing an indefinite extension, but there are reasons for this being more than just an arbitrary end point.
Firstly, all those players whose contracts are due to expire at the end of the 2019-20 season become free agents as of 1 July, leaving a great deal of uncertainty as to whether they can be made eligible for any fixtures played after that point. Beyond the top level, there would also be the concern of new free agents being unable to find work until whenever the 2020-21 season gets underway, potentially putting many players at risk financially.
Uefa has also explained that there is a desire to have domestic leagues completed by 30 June if at all possible. In its statement announcing the postponement of Euro 2020 until the summer of 2021, Europe’s governing body advised, “The resolution features a commitment to complete all domestic and European club competitions by the end of the current sporting season, i.e. 30 June 2020 at the latest, should the situation improve and resuming playing be appropriate and prudent enough.”
However, more and more countries across the continent have taken more stringent steps as a result of the intensified battle against Covid-19, with Britain having been under lockdown since last Monday. And on Sunday, England’s deputy chief medical officer, Dr Jenny Harries, warned that the current measures will be reviewed on a three-week rolling scale and could be in force for as long as six months.
“We must not then suddenly revert to our normal way of living. That would be quite dangerous,” Dr Harries told a public briefing. “If we stop, then all of our efforts will be wasted and we could potentially see a second peak. So over time, probably over the next six months, we will have a three-week review. We will see where we are going.”
That sort of timescale could see the Premier League reconsider its earlier proposal to suspend the season indefinitely, but an unsatisfactory resolution to the professional season could result in the likes of Liverpool, Leeds United and West Bromwich Albion seeking legal recourse.
While the Merseysiders are 25 points clear and just two wins shy of becoming Premier League champions with nine matches to play, Leeds and West Brom are well placed to be promoted from the Championship. And a decision to expunge all this season’s results could leave the FA and Premier League in a difficult position legally.
There has even been some discussion about the last 92 games being played behind closed doors in a select number of venues for televised audiences in a bid to get the season completed. But, while some argue that it is more important to retain the integrity of the ongoing campaign than remain faithful to the future calendar, the end date of 30 June remains a serious consideration given the ongoing battle being faced across society.