Option 2 - Finishing out the Season Post July 1
As mentioned at the beginning of option 1, playing the ‘19-’20 Premier League campaign after July 1 would require a massive overhaul of player contract end dates. Somehow, clubs would need to convince players and agents alike to extend contracts beyond June 30 or players would need to play for free (an even less likely option).
Would clubs be able to afford this, especially given the financial detriment this pandemic has already caused? What about players like Hakim Ziyech who have already agreed to a contract with Chelsea beginning July 1?
It seems this option will be the least likely to happen out of the three total options I will pose, but let’s assume that somehow the contract situation is sorted.
When will the season resume?
If the Premier League plans to resume after July 1, there really is no rush in starting the season before clubs and players are 100% ready. Leagues, clubs, and governments should take their time to make sure that players properly train and the pandemic situation is under control.
My thought process is that in order for this option to be successful, players would need to begin going back to training no later than August 1. If this is not feasible, the Premier League will need to declare the season null and void (we’ll talk about that with Option 3).
What would be the timeline of the ‘19-’20 season?
If players return to training August 1, they could train for approximately 1 month and resume play at the end of August (See Fig. 1 below). You could extend the length of the remaining season to two months, which means the season would end in late October. This could allow for other competitions to be played, such as the FA Cup and potential European competitions.
Furthermore, there would not be as high of a risk to player health and safety as player’s bodies would be given more time to adjust to a high level of competition and the Covid-19 pandemic would be in a much better situation in August compared to June.
When does the ‘20-’21 season begin?
The offseason between the ‘19-’20 and the ‘20-’21 campaigns would be different from most. It would be shorter (~2 months instead of 3). I believe this timeline should be fine given the players would have had a 5 month offseason before the ‘19-’20 season resumed in August.
The start date for the 2020-2021 season would be on Boxing Day. What a day to start the season! Boxing Day falls on a Saturday and would be the perfect time to begin a new season.
When would the transfer window occur?
As discussed in Option 1, the transfer window could not begin to take into effect until the ‘19-’20 season is over. This means that it would begin November 1 and could last 2-3 months.
What is the impact of Option 2 on future seasons?
This depends on how long the 2020-2021 season would last. You could make it last the standard time of 9 months, ending in September of 2022. You could also extend it 10-11 months, resulting in the season ending as late as November 2021. Below are two sets of timelines depending on what the Premier League chooses to do.
The first thing you notice with these timelines is that the Premier League will play one less season than they otherwise would have, making Option 2 the least likely to occur in my opinion. For now, let’s assume the PL looks past that caveat.
Another facet to examine is the fact both of these timelines have seasons that are planned around a November World Cup in 2022, which could be used as an advantage. Let’s examine the pros and cons of each of the two timelines:
Timeline 1 (Fig. 2):
Timing of PL campaigns gets back to normal sooner (as early as 2023-2024 season)
Euro 2021 would occur in the winter (Dec 2021)
Extremely long season pause in the ‘22-’23 season (Sept. ‘22 to Feb. ‘23, with World Cup in between)
Timeline 2 (Fig. 3):
November 2022 World Cup is used to its full advantage as season is played around it, just like a normal World Cup
Euro 2021 played in slightly warmer weather (October instead of December)
It will take longer to get back to normal season timing (2024-2025 season)
As you can tell, no matter what option or timeline that is adopted, serious re-working of player contracts and season timing is necessary. While I believe Timeline 1 is better because normal season timing would occur sooner, any of these timelines seem to be highly unlikely to occur.