Monday's soccer news starts with the push to resume the club schedule in Europe. The likeliest way that would happen is playing games without fans, something that was already occurring before the suspension of the schedule. Perhaps the only thing stranger than playing games in empty stadiums is not playing at all, the reality for sports leagues around the world right now. Finding a way to get the games going again is primary for the stakeholders, with the economic losses piling up. While professional sports may be a small part of the current economic malaise and rampant unemployment triggered by the pandemic stay at home orders, it's the primary economy for those working in the sport. Their job right now is plotting a safe way back in the shortest possible timeframe.
Unfortunately for people missing sports on the schedule, that timeframe continues to push against the reality of the situation. We're due another week of media reports predicting restarts in a timeframe that's no longer than it was a couple of weeks ago. UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin is openly talking about getting the games in by September, playing without fans when necessary to finish the 2019-20 season. Not that UEFA and Europe's domestic leagues have much choice right now. As it stands, they're reliant on governments allowing games to go ahead. How that plays out isn't in any governing body's control. In other words, it's the same situation, now growing older by the day for people living their lives at home or working to support sheltered populations.
While no one should expect this to become the new normal, returning to games played out in front of an audience doesn't have a timeframe. "The fact is that we really don't know much," Ceferin told Germany's ZDF Sportstudio. "We are waiting for the development of this terrible situation in the world, and mainly in Europe. Football isn't the same without fans. But it is definitely better to play with fans than without fans."
Also in the soccer news, the Premier League did not reach an agreement with players over the weekend to reduce their salaries by 30% for 12 months. At issue is the lost tax revenue from such a large across the board deduction in a time when the government needs the tax revenue and the financial situation of the clubs. That includes a guarantee of no furloughing of club employees and a clear understanding of where the recouped player money is going.
In a statement, England's Professional Footballers Association made their position clear. "There should be no doubting the players and captains are committed to achieving this as soon as possible. They recognize their role in wider society and what they need to do, as a group, to help and support others."
What isn't as clear is the economic situation with the individual Premier League clubs. Reports have some clubs in significant trouble while others are criticizing the push to furlough employees to take advantage of a government program that will pay some of those salaries. Liverpool is the latest Premier League club to furlough staff. AP's Rob Harris explains why some Premier League clubs are taking the furlough option.
The NY Times' Rory Smith argues that there's a lack of trust in European soccer. The Independent's Tales Azzoni takes a closer look at the player pay issue in La Liga with Spain extending the state of emergency.
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