The Premier League play out in China?
Football fans may see the return of the Premier League.
The league’s 20 clubs will hold a video conference to discuss the possibility of a resumption, it’s “accepted by all that there is no hope of professional games being played immediately after the current 30 April deadline”.
The restart date will be pushed back to late May or, suspend the league indefinitely like France and Spain.
Today’s conference call will be how to respond to the tsunami of negative publicity that has engulfed the top-flight of English football this week.
In response to the growing criticism, the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) released a statement which bristled with defiance: “We are aware of the public sentiment that the players should pay non-playing staff’s salaries. However, our current position is that – as businesses – if clubs can afford to pay their players and staff, they should.”
It’s reported that the PFA want to examine clubs’ accounts before agreeing to any wage cuts because, “they remain suspicious of many club owners, who are seeking to use this crisis to wriggle out of their contractual obligations”.
The Premier League is acutely aware it is caught in the midst of a public relations disaster and one measure it might announce today to “correct some of the negative publicity” is to offer stadiums and medical staff to the National Health Service.
With football unlikely to resume before June, this short-term measure would help restore their standing among fans and the wider public.
What won’t help the Premier League’s cause are stories like the one covered by many of today’s online publications that clubs are contemplating completing the season in China.
“The country that keeps getting proposed is China, If we were to pick up the Premier League and move it to another part of the world right now we’d get absolutely slaughtered.”
China would be an enthusiastic host, given that the country is waging a fierce propaganda war to help the world forget how the coronavirus pandemic started, but football fans may not be quite so enamoured of the idea.