April 30, 2020
Manchester United executive vice-chairman, Ed Woodward has sought clarity from the Football Association (FA) and the Premier League with regards to the proposed restart of the 2019/20 season following the coronavirus pandemic which caused world football to cease almost two months ago.
The framework for the Premier League to be restarted has been approved by Prime Minister, Boris Johnson after his return to work after recovering from the virus and the associated disease. This will include crucial plans for widespread testing of all Premier League players, which will need to happen if the return to the sport is going to be safe.
On Friday, there will be a league meeting which will see all the plans laid out with representatives from all 20 clubs currently in the league. This comes in the same week that the French government cancelled all sporting events in the country which ended both Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 with Paris Saint-Germain being confirmed as the French champions again.
It would seem that what happened in France has led Woodward to ask some of his own questions regarding the proposed restart as any person in a high capacity as any club would do, ensuring that all players, coaches, the manager and all other associated staff were going to be safe. Woodward, at a recent Fans’ Forum, was quoted as saying:
“We’ve got to have clarity on what the future holds.
“What will happen with the remainder of this season? What is the impact on next season? Is it behind closed doors or in front of fans?
“What’s the impact on broadcast deals, sponsorship deals? What’s the impact on domestic cups?
“Also, we don’t yet know what’s going to happen with regards to the FA Cup – we’re obviously still in that in the quarter-finals.
“What’s going to happen to that next season if it’s truncated a little bit to squeeze in Premier League games? Does that have a knock-on on domestic cups?
“There are many, many moving parts. It is not necessarily going to be business as usual for clubs this summer.
“It feels somewhat inappropriate to see speculation about transfers for hundreds of millions in current circumstances.”
United were in good form before the coronavirus pandemic stopped world football and were unbeaten in 11 matches, scoring 29 goals, conceding twice, and keeping nine clean sheets. This saw Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side pushing for a top four position in the Premier League to earn UEFA Champions League football next season.
United were also on the verge of securing a place in the last eight of the UEFA Europa League, beating LASK 5-0 in their last game before football was sidelined, seemingly putting them in the draw for the next round. United have also been tipped to be competitive in the transfer market this summer, which was previously downplayed by Woodward. He said:
“It’s always a top priority for us to strengthen the team and build on what Ole is very clearly achieving in terms of bringing us back to the top.
“But we’ve got to have clarity on what the future holds.
“Clearly, it’s true we are fortunate to be in a strong financial position compared to many clubs, but we are not immune from the financial impact of what this virus is doing.”
Perhaps Woodward’s questions will be answered on Friday in the meeting with the Premier League, which could start the process for the players returning to training and gearing themselves up for restarting the season, which is something that could be problematic with the country seemingly divided. Rumours suggest a restart from the 8 June 2020.