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 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.