Wednesday's soccer news starts with UEFA meeting in part to try and determine a timescale for completing the 2019-20 European season. If this sounds like a topic on endless repeat these days, you're not alone. European soccer's attempt to chart a path through the uncertainty of a global pandemic carries with it the significant constraint of having no clear idea when it will be safe and in the public interest to stage games.
UEFA has already taken the practical step of moving Euro 2020 to next summer. Anything else requires information that currently doesn't exist. An end date to the pandemic is beyond soccer's control, something that tends to churn the same articles and media responses with large parts of the world under stay at home orders. Right now, it's an open question due to the lack of that substantial bit of information. In its place, anyone is free to strategize on soccer's behalf.
If or how the 2019-20 season resumes isn't going to get an answer on a conference call on April 1. UEFA and Europe's leagues could announce a best case scenario, but there's a substantial risk in a date that may pass without playing games. That's the uncertainty of the situation the world finds itself in, with April already a lost month. It's not the news anyone wants to hear, but there's no alternate reality filter to get professional sports going again. China's aborted attempt to restart their sports leagues demonstrated that earlier this week.
Professional soccer may mistake putting dates on the schedule with leadership and guidance. It's not that. Instead, it's the insistence that they can somehow control a situation that's beyond everybody. The games could start again in time to salvage the 2019-20 season. Or maybe they can't. That's one part of the uncertain situation we're all currently living. Accepting that doesn't make it any easier, but it could reign in both extremes of a tiresome conversation. The games probably aren't going to return as quickly as some would like. It's also probably not a doomsday scenario that will stall paly for many months. That's the safest prediction any of us can make right now, even if it's not what most of us want to hear.
UEFA announced on Wednesday that the June international window is off. They've also suspended Financial Fair Play requirements for clubs to participate in next season's European competitions. Figuring out what clubs would play in the 2020-21 Champions League and Europa Leagues is an interesting question should the current seasons not finish.
Also in the soccer news, the financial situation for clubs across Europe is causing broader issues. Cutting player wages would seem like a first step considering that they account for a high percentage of a team's budget. That hasn't happened yet in the world's most lucrative league. Instead, some Premier League clubs are taking advantage of a British government wage replacement program that requires furloughing staffers.
FourFourTwo's Mark White asks about English clubs furloughing staff to take advantage of a government program to pay a percentage of wages. The Telegraph's Jason Burt takes issue with how some Premier League clubs are responding to loss of revenue. The Independent's Miguel Delaney on the bigger picture with pro teams expecting players to reduce their salaries. Reuters' Simon Evans also looks at the growing pressure on player salaries.
AFP explains the issues with Germany's 50+1 rule amid economic uncertainty in professional soccer. Yahoo Sports' Doug McIntyre talks to San Diego Loyal coach Landon Donovan about the USL's suspended season.
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