The PFA: Little alternative than playing behind closed doors

It is reported that the Professional Footballers’ Association will meet with the EFL and Premier League on Friday to discuss the financial impact of the football season shutdown due to COVID-19.

It is understood talks have already taken place between the union and the two governing bodies, and that this will be a continuation of those discussions. The EFL has been suspended since the 13th March and no fixtures will take place until the beginning of May, at the earliest.

“As with other industries, the crisis is having a severe impact on the finances of the game,” the PFA said.

“Several clubs have already approached players with a view to imposing pay deferrals,”

“In order to deal with this situation, we have called for an urgent meeting with both the Premier League and the EFL to discuss how we might proceed going forward.”

Birmingham City became the first Championship club to ask players to take pay deferrals, while League Two Forest Green Rovers will use the government’s wage support scheme to keep paying staff.

The current pandemic has left clubs having to deal with the financial implications of the shutdown. Last week the EFL released a £50million package to help its clubs manage cash flow issues caused by the suspension in action.

That package is set to assist with the initial cash flow issues which many clubs are currently facing, but with the remaining league season looking increasingly likely to be played behind closed doors, any potential revenue coming into the club will be waved goodbye.

Town players have already spoken about the potential of playing the remaining fixtures in empty stadiums, something which deputy chief executive of the PFA, Bobby Barnes, believes will be the only viable option.

“In an ideal world we’d be playing in front of crowds but I think it’s more a case of there being no alternative,” Barnes told The Athletic.

“Players are realistic. They don’t want to play behind closed doors if possible, but we’re not in an ideal world and the ones I’ve spoken to accept that’s what it will have to be.

“Football is about fans. But the reality for the vast majority of the players, particularly at the highest level, is their income is funded by television money and there are contracts that have to be adhered to.

“In order for us (the PFA) to be able to protect those players in terms of securing their salaries, if that’s the only offer we have on the table to complete the season, then that is what it will be.

”If we’re going to get the season finished in a timely fashion so we can even consider starting next season, we’ve got to be open to all options.”

Meanwhile, The FA have made the decision to end the all football underneath the National League North / South to be expunged due to the ongoing situation with Covid-19.

It means there will be no promotion or relegation in these divisions.

The same will happen in the women’s game below the Women’s Super League and Championship level, meaning the Women’s National League, where Ipswich Town Ladies currently play in, will now be essentially wiped out.

The FA said it was “reviewing all options” to complete the men’s FA Cup, which had reached the quarter-final stage, and other cup competitions.

“These are challenging circumstances for English football and all decisions taken are in the best interests of the game,” said a Football Association statement. 

“Our primary concern will always be for the safety and welfare of clubs, players, staff, officials, volunteers and supporters during this unprecedented time.

“Today’s steps take into account the financial impact during this uncertain period, whilst considering the fairest method on how the sporting outcomes for the season will be decided, with the integrity of the leagues in mind.”

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