Premier League could grant clubs in Eu­rope a de­layed start to 2020-21

United, City and Wolves may all kick off a week af­ter Sept 12 Travel re­stric­tions leave play­ers’ hol­i­day plans in doubt

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport Football - BY JA­SON BURT CHIEF FOOT­BALL COR­RE­SPON­DENT

The Premier League will con­sider al­low­ing Manch­ester United, Manch­ester City and Wolver­hamp­ton Wan­der­ers a de­layed start to next sea­son depend­ing on how far they go in Euro­pean com­pe­ti­tion.

The start date for the next cam­paign is due to be rat­i­fied as Sept 12 at a meet­ing of the 20 clubs to­day, the fi­nal video con­fer­ence of the sea­son. The date is the lat­est week­end deemed work­able by the Premier League to fit in all the games.

The league needs 34 week­ends and four mid­week match days for its cam­paign, but it also means that the play­ers at United, City and Wolves could have very lit­tle time to pre­pare com­pared to their ri­vals.

Wolves, for ex­am­ple, played their first com­pet­i­tive fix­ture of this sea­son on July 25 last year, in a Europa League qual­i­fier, and should Nuno Espir­ito Santo’s side go all the way to the fi­nal of the com­pe­ti­tion, they will play un­til Aug 21.

The sched­ule for United and City has not been quite so long but, sim­i­larly, United could be in a Europa League fi­nal, while the Cham­pi­ons League fi­nal that City hope to reach will take place on Aug 23.

Af­ter that the cal­en­dar is fur­ther com­pli­cated by an in­ter­na­tional break at the be­gin­ning of Septem­ber, al­though there is an ex­pec­ta­tion that na­tional team coaches may leave out play­ers who fea­ture in the lat­ter stages of this sea­son’s Euro­pean cup com­pe­ti­tions.

Dis­cus­sions are there­fore ex­pected to take place to al­low United, City and Wolves an ex­tra week to pre­pare their play­ers for the Premier League cam­paign, which means they might not re­turn to ac­tion un­til Sept 19.

The sched­ule at Wolves is so pun­ish­ing that the play­ers can only take three days off af­ter the end of the league sea­son on Sun­day be­fore be­gin­ning to pre­pare for the sec­ond leg of their Europa League tie at home to Olympia­cos on Aug 6.

City face the same de­mands, as they play Real Madrid the fol­low­ing evening, while for United the prepa­ra­tion time is even less as they are at home to LASK on Aug 5, al­beit 5-0 up from the first leg.

At the same time there is con­cern at the Premier League over the travel re­stric­tions that re­main in place for play­ers. Al­though as elite ath­letes they qual­ify for ex­emp­tions, there needs to be greater clar­ity over whether they can go on hol­i­day to na­tive coun­tries which are not listed as UK travel cor­ri­dors.

For ex­am­ple, Por­tu­gal is not cov­ered at present, al­though the Gov­ern­ment is due to up­date its rules on Mon­day, with a large num­ber of play­ers from the coun­try play­ing in the Premier League.

At present, coron­avirus reg­u­la­tions mean you must self-iso­late for 14 days if you ar­rive in the United King­dom from a coun­try out­side the com­mon travel area.

Pun­ish­ing sched­ule: The sea­son for Nuno Espir­ito Santo and Wolves be­gan on July 25 last year and could end on Aug 21

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