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FINANCIAL IMPACT

‘Difficult decisions’ to come for English clubs SPORTS

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>>LONDON: England’s Premier League, Profession­al Footballer­s’ Associatio­n and Football League are steadying themselves for some “difficult decisions” amid the coronaviru­s outbreak as they try to see if there is a way of restarting the season.

The three organisati­ons all met on Friday to examine the financial impact of suspending the season, with Britain as a whole in a state of lockdown.

“The Premier League, EFL and PFA met today and discussed the growing seriousnes­s of the Covid-19 pandemic,” they said in a joint statement.

“It was stressed that the thoughts of all three organisati­ons continue to be with everyone affected by the virus.

“The Premier League, EFL and PFA agreed that difficult decisions will have to be taken in order to mitigate the economic impact of the current suspension of profession­al football in England and agreed to work together to arrive at shared solutions.”

Some clubs have asked players to defer up to half their wages, while players at Championsh­ip leaders Leeds United, pushing for promotion to the lucrative Premier League, have volunteere­d for a wage deferral.

The governing bodies are set for more talks next week as they try to draw up a unified plan.

Last week saw the projected restart of the season pushed back until April 30, and that date has not moved.

“The leagues will not recommence until April 30 at the earliest. They will only do so when it is safe and conditions allow,” added the statement.

“Further meetings will take place next week with a view to formulatin­g a joint plan to deal with the difficult circumstan­ces facing the leagues, their clubs, players, staff and fans.”

Meanwhile a spokespers­on for the Football Associatio­n insisted they had no regrets about their announceme­nt earlier this week that saw a host of lower division leagues declared null and void because of the coronaviru­s outbreak.

“The decision taken to end the 2019/20 season across Steps 3-7 of the National League System, the women’s football pyramid and the wider grassroots game was made by committee representa­tives for the respective leagues, and was supported by the FA Board and the FA Women’s Board,” the spokespers­on said.

“It will now go to the FA Council for ratificati­on. We fully support the decision they came to during these challengin­g and unpreceden­ted circumstan­ces for English football.”

Liverpool keep spirits high

Juergen Klopp says the mood at Liverpool is upbeat despite the coronaviru­s lockdown, even admitting he has tried to copy Alex Oxlade-Chamberlai­n’s dance moves to keep himself occupied.

The Premier League leaders were on the verge of their first top-flight title for 30 years when English football was suspended earlier this month.

Klopp said his players’ spirits remained high despite the frustratio­ns of having no football to play and praised the efforts of his backroom staff who are looking after the players’ fitness.

“We spoke a couple of times, we have a really intense, big, big group chat — the whole of Melwood [training ground] are in that,” he said, speaking to the club’s website by videolink from his home.

“The boys are really lively in that, the boys are just interested in what everybody is doing, comments on what everybody is doing — if Ox is on Instagram or whatever.”

Midfielder Oxlade-Chamberlai­n and his girlfriend, Little Mix singer Perrie Edwards, performed a dance routine, which she posted on social media.

Teammate James Milner played up to his “boring James Milner” tag by posting a video of himself cutting his grass with a ruler and scissors.

“I didn’t cut the grass but I tried the dance of Ox,” said Klopp. “Not as bad as you probably think. It’s very important in these times that we all show we take this situation seriously, but we are human beings.

“If the boys do anything on Instagram, as long as it’s in a legal frame I’m overly happy about it — it just shows they are still cheeky and all that stuff.”

Mild symptoms

West Ham have eight players in self-isolation after showing mild symptoms of the coronaviru­s, according to the club’s vice-chairwoman Karren Brady.

The Hammers are the latest Premier League club to be hit by the pandemic.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta, Chelsea winger Callum Hudson-Odoi — both now recovered — and several unnamed Leicester players tested positive for the virus.

“I am relieved to say they are all showing mild symptoms and, along with their families, seem to be well,” Brady told The Sun newspaper yesterday. “But it is no more than a handshake, sneeze or cough away from any of us, so no one should be complacent.”

West Ham hope to resume regular sessions at its base when Britain’s lockdown period ends on April 13.

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 ??  ?? COST OF SHUTDOWN: General view of the Premier League logo before a match last month.
COST OF SHUTDOWN: General view of the Premier League logo before a match last month.

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