Pre­mier League tar­gets Septem­ber 12 start that may re­strict cup dates

Top-flight clubs set to re­ject FA’s pre­ferred date of Au­gust 29 Sum­mer trans­fer win­dow can stay open un­til Oc­to­ber 5

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport Premier League - By Ja­son Burt

The Pre­mier League’s pre­ferred start date for the new sea­son is Sept 12 – with the trans­fer win­dow re­main­ing open un­til Oct 5.

Two dates will be dis­cussed for the 2020-21 cam­paign at a meet­ing of the 20 clubs today, with Aug 29 the only al­ter­na­tive for the kick-off.

How­ever, the Pre­mier League will make it clear it wants to go with Sept 12, which had been de­scribed as the lat­est date with­out dam­ag­ing the com­pe­ti­tion’s “in­tegrity”.

The English Foot­ball League is likely to start on Aug 29, although some Cham­pi­onship clubs would pre­fer to fol­low the Pre­mier League.

The Pre­mier League needs 34 week­ends and four mid­weeks to com­plete its pro­gramme, with Uefa al­ready set­ting a cut-off date for next sea­son, with Euro 2020 pushed back to June 11, 2021.

Choos­ing Sept 12 would have a knock-on ef­fect for the Carabao Cup and the FA Cup. There are fears that the Pre­mier League clubs, es­pe­cially those in Euro­pean com­pe­ti­tions, will ask not to com­pete in the Carabao Cup next sea­son, which would be a blow to the EFL.

In­deed it may be that if the EFL asks for ex­tra funding from the Pre­mier League, to help it through the Covid-19 cri­sis, part of the ne­go­ti­a­tions will be a com­pro­mise on who com­petes in the Carabao Cup and the dates avail­able for the com­pe­ti­tion with its two-leg semi-fi­nals.

The Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion is also un­der pres­sure to sur­ren­der some week­end dates for the FA Cup, but it will dig its heels in. The or­gan­i­sa­tion is de­pen­dent on broad­cast rev­enue from the FA Cup.

It, there­fore, wants the Pre­mier League sea­son to be­gin on Aug 29, but the ex­pec­ta­tion is that the clubs will vote for Sept 12. The vote is un­likely to take place un­til the next meet­ing in two weeks’ time. If Sept 12 is cho­sen, it means that the Pre­mier League sea­son will also be­gin af­ter in­ter­na­tional matches, with England set to face Ice­land away on Sept 5 and Den­mark away on Sept 8 in the Uefa Na­tions League.

An added headache is if Manch­ester City or Manch­ester United win the FA Cup then the Com­mu­nity Shield is un­likely to take place, given the ex­pec­ta­tion that both clubs will be play­ing matches in the Cham­pi­ons League and Europa League which re­sume in Au­gust.

The FA may at­tempt to sal­vage the tra­di­tional cur­tain-raiser to the sea­son, but se­nior fig­ures are in­creas­ingly re­signed to the fix­ture be­ing can­celled, es­pe­cially if fans are not al­lowed to at­tend.

Some play­ers, such as Manch­ester City’s Ra­heem Ster­ling, may have no break be­tween this sea­son and next should his team go all the way to the Cham­pi­ons League fi­nal.

Another mat­ter is when the sum­mer trans­fer win­dow opens and closes. It was due to open in most leagues on July 1 and end on Aug 31 and Pre­mier League chief ex­ec­u­tive Richard Mas­ters has stated it will not open un­til af­ter the sea­son has ended on July 26. The ex­pec­ta­tion is that it will be­gin the fol­low­ing day, with the pre­ferred date for clos­ing the win­dow for top-flight clubs Oct 5, the date by which Uefa wants all leagues to have com­pleted trad­ing.

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