Premier League could face legal action from relegated clubs if they decide to end the season as it stands as ‘they would be in breach of their own rules’
- The Premier League could face legal action from potential relegated clubs
- The league must make a decision soon over how this year’s season will end
- Relegated clubs would have a claim against league for breaching their own rules
- Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?
The Premier League are likely to face legal action from relegated clubs if they decide to end the season now with the table as it stands.
An emergency meeting is being held this week as authorities discuss how the campaign will conclude after English football ground to a halt in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
All matches the top four divisions have been suspended until at least April 3 but it is increasingly unlikely that the leagues will be in a position to resume by then with Government projections forecasting the virus to peak in May or June and seven Premier League clubs currently with players in isolation and Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta testing positive for Covid-19.
If Premier League season is ended now, teams in the relegation zone could take legal action
Norwich City, Bournemouth, and Aston Villa would be relegated as they are in bottom three
If the season is unable to be completed then the Premier League must decide whether Liverpool are crowned champions and what happens to the clubs in the bottom three. Norwich, Aston Villa and Bournemouth currently sit in the relegation zone with the latter two only there on goal difference while Villa have a game in hand.
Should they be relegated, those three clubs could take action.
‘It would leave the Premier League open to claims, in my view, from a relegated club in particular who would have an arguable claim against them on the ground that they have breached their own rules by ending a season before all the fixtures have been fulfilled,’ James Severn, sports and litigation partner at Penningtons Manches Cooper.
‘The Premier League rules set out what a season is. It is defined as ‘the period commencing on the date of the first league match on the fixture list of the League’s first team competition and ending on the date of the last’. That’s the season. It further says in the rules that the season is every team playing each other home and away.
The league could face legal action as none of the teams are mathematically relegated yet
The clubs would have an arguable claim that the league would be breaching their own rules
‘Rule C14 says that it is the bottom three clubs in the table at the end of the season who will be relegated. If the season hasn’t ended, what they would say is how can we be relegated? And the season hasn’t ended until the teams have played all their games.
‘There is an agreement between the clubs, who are stakeholders in the Premier League company, and the Premier League as to how the competition will be run. The argument would be that we agreed to these rules, by terminating the season before it is finished, you have breached them. As a result of that breach we have suffered damage.’
If the Premier League decide to keep playing but delay the restart to the season, there will be further complications with out-of-contract players. Contracts usually expire on June 30 but it is highly unlikely that the season will be completed by then, opening up the possibility of standoffs between players and clubs.
‘What could theoretically happen is an out-of-contract Premier League player could decide that on June 30, he is going to go to move and finish the delayed Bundesliga season for RB Leipzig on good money. In reality, it is likely that would be prevented by the leagues and associations. The players and clubs will be looking to do short-term deals for the players they want.
‘Clubs will be looking to secure an extra few weeks commitment from them in exchange for payment. Agents will probably have some fun with it.’
HOW CORONAVIRUS HAS HIT THE WORLD OF SPORT SO FAR
2020 OLYMPIC GAMES
The Olympic torch relay in Greece was cancelled on Friday 13 March – just a day after the flame was lit in Olympia.
Large crowds mobbed Hollywood actor Gerard Butler as he lit the cauldron in the Greek city of Sparta on Friday despite repeated warnings for spectators not to attend because of coronavirus.
That forced the decision by the Greek Olympic Committee to halt the torch relay on Greek soil on just the second day of its scheduled eight-day journey.
The Olympic flame will still be handed over to the Tokyo 2020 organising committee at the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens on Thursday, but without fans. It is the only the third time that a relay to Athens for the summer Games has not been completed.
The scale of the outbreak in Japan saw senior International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound describe the disease as ‘the new war’ threatening Tokyo 2020 and he warned the Games may have to be cancelled if the virus was still around by May.
Olympic organisers told athletes to train as normal with no decision on cancellation
The Japanese government later insisted Pound’s comments were not the IOC’s official stance but there remains doubts over whether the summer showcase can still go ahead with health concerns.
Athletes have been told to keep training and the plan remains to hold the Games in Japan as planned but training for around 80,000 volunteers has been delayed for at least two months- it was due to begin on February 22.
On Friday, March 13; President Donald Trump’s suggestion to postpone the Tokyo Olympics for a year because of the spreading coronavirus was immediately shot down by Japan’s Olympic minister.
‘The IOC and the organising committee are not considering cancellation or a postponement – absolutely not at all,’ Seiko Hashimoto, an Olympic bronze medalist, told a news conference in Tokyo.
The International Olympic Committee and Tokyo organisers have stayed on message since the viral outbreak in China three months ago spread across Asia and then the globe: The games will open as schedule on July 24.
World Athletics Indoor Championships (March 13-15 in Nanjing) is off until 2021.
The World Athletics Indoor Championships in Nanjing, China, has been postponed due to concerns over the danger of the coronavirus and its ability to spread
North Korea cancelled the Pyongyang Marathon scheduled for April after imposing a border lockdown due to the level of outbreak in South Korea.
The Seoul Marathon is cancelled in a bid to protect runners following the mass outbreak in South Korea.
The Paris half-marathon is cancelled and the French government also decided to ban all indoor public gatherings of more than 5,000 people.
The race involving some 44,000 competitors was scheduled for Sunday (March 1) in the French capital city. Organisers said the race will be postponed to a date yet to be determined.
The Barcelona marathon scheduled for March 15 has been postponed until October to stop the spread of the coronavirus, Barcelona’s city hall said in a statement.
A mixed relay Olympic triathlon qualification event scheduled for Chengdu, China in May is moved to Valencia, pending an outbreak in Spain.
German Open (March 3-8), Vietnam Open (March 24-29) and Polish Open (March 26-29), all Olympic qualifying events, are cancelled due to ‘strict health protection’.
Olympic boxing qualifiers to be staged in Wuhan were cancelled by the International Olympic Committee, and now are relocated to occur in Amman from March 3-11
The IBF title fight between Daniele Scardina and Andrew Francillette in Milan on February 28 was postponed by Matchroom due to restrictions in Italy following the outbreak.
The Japanese boxing commission cancelled all fight cards scheduled for March on government advice to suspend all pending sporting fixtures. They will not be rescheduled.
All British fights over the next two months are under threat. The BBBoC confirmed to Sportsmail they are no currently making recommendations to cancel shows but admitted that can change and will await guidance from the government.
England’s tour of Sri Lanka was postponed on Friday 13 March due to the coronavirus pandemic, with the England and Wales Cricket Board citing ‘completely unprecedented times’.
The decision was confirmed while Joe Root’s side were in the field at Colombo’s P Sara Oval, contesting a warm-up game for a two-Test series that was in the process of being written off by decision-makers back at Lord’s.
Danish cyclist Michael Morkov has been cleared to race at the UCI Track Cycling World Championships after being kept in isolation over fears of an outbreak of coronavirus.
Morkov, 34, had travelled to Berlin in February after contesting the first four stages of the UAE Tour, the final two stages of which were then cancelled after two members of staff on the race were suspected of having the disease.
Riders and staff on the UAE Tour have been in lockdown since but, after the Abu Dhabi Department of Health issued a statement on Saturday saying 167 tests had come back negative, the UCI said Morkov was free to race as normal.
Danish cyclist Michael Morkov was tested for coronavirus after being put in isolation
Top-level English and Scottish football has been suspended until April 3 at the earliest due to the coronavirus pandemic, it was announced on Friday 13 March.
The Football Association, the Premier League, the English Football League, FA Women’s Super League and FA Women’s Championship have all agreed to call a halt to competitive action with immediate effect.
A joint statement from the Scottish Football Association and the Scottish Professional Football League confirmed the suspension of all football north of the border until further notice.
The decisions to suspend follows players and staff becoming affected by the virus, or individuals self-isolating as a precaution after reporting symptoms consistent with Covid-19.
The Premier League clash between Manchester City and Arsenal, scheduled for March 11, had already been postponed as a ‘precautionary measure’ after Olympiacos owner Evangelos Marinakis tested positive for coronavirus weeks after watching his Greek team play at the Emirates Stadium.
On Friday 13 March, UEFA has announced all Champions League and Europa League fixtures scheduled for next week are postponed, as well as the quarter-final draws for both competitions. UEFA has called an emergency meeting on Tuesday 17 March to discuss whether Euro 2020 can go ahead as scheduled.
All domestic fixtures at all levels are postponed by the Chinese Football Association as the season is pushed back due to the scale of the outbreak in China.
Asian Champions League matches involving Guangzhou Evergrande, Shanghai Shenhua and Shanghai SIPG are postponed until April.
The start of the Korean K-League season is postponed. The four teams in the AFC Champions League are playing their matches behind closed doors.
Japan’s J-League postponed all domestic games until the middle of March.
Inter Milan’s game against Sampdoria was one of four Serie A games cancelled on February 22-23 weekend due to affected regions in Italy leading to advice from the prime minister to call off sporting events.
Inter Milan’s Europa League match with Getafe was also postponed on March 11, while Roma’s flight to Spain to face Sevilla was banned from landing before being postponed, with Italy on lockdown.
The Coppa Italia match between Napoli and Inter Milan on March 5 became the latest fixture to be called off, when it was postponed indefinitely. It was the 12th game to be postponed since the crisis began and the third involving Inter.
Ludogorets players were taking no chances after the coronavirus outbreak in Italy
An update from sports minister Vincenzo Spadafora later confirmed all the Serie A fixtures for the weekend commencing March 7-8, would be played behind closed doors. And with the country on lockdown, it was later announced that all sport, including Serie A games, would be suspended until at least April 3 to contain the virus.
In France, it was announced on Friday 13 March that there will be no top-flight football in France for the immediate future after their governing body postponed all matches in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
In Spain, April 18’s Copa del Rey final between between Athletic Bilbao and Real Sociedad has been postponed.
UEFA said it is asking governments across the continent to ensure Euro 2020 goes ahead in three months despite the coronavirus outbreak.
MLS has been suspended for 30 days with David Beckham’s first Inter Miami home game delayed.
The home leg of the Chinese women’s national team’s Olympic qualification play-off against South Korea set for March is switched to Sydney. The squad are held in quarantine upon their arrival in Australia for January’s qualifying group stage due to fears of virus carriers.
Inter Milan’s Europa League match against Ludogorets on February 27 was played behind closed doors. Only TV rights-holders are allowed to attend as media as the club look to secure the San Siro. Ludogorets players arrived in Italy wearing face masks.
Serie A announced five matches on February 28-March 1 would be played behind closed doors, including Juventus vs Inter Milan in Turin, a huge match between title rivals.
Ligue 1 followed suit with games set to be played in empty stadiums until April 15. Clubs also have the option of playing games with just 1,000 fans.
LaLiga became the latest league to ban supporters in stadiums after guidance from Spain’s health ministry and sports council. Barcelona’s Champions League tie with Napoli will also be played in an empty ground.
Olympiakos’ owner Evangelos Marinakis has tested positive for the coronavirus
Manchester United clash at Austrian side Lask was behind closed doors, with United handing out £350 to each fan to help with travel and accommodation after they sold 900 tickets for the Europa League game.
Newcastle United have banned their players from shaking hands with each other amid coronavirus fears.
Three players from third-division Italian football club US Pianese have tested positive for coronavirus, the Tuscany side confirmed on Friday.
Olympiacos owner Evangelos Marinakis, who also owns Nottingham Forest, tested positive for the coronavirus. Both Olympiacos and Forest squads were tested and all returned negative.
In Germany, Hannover 96 defender Timo Hubers tested positive for the virus.
Spain’s Copa del Rey final, which was set to take place on April 18, between Real Sociedad and Athletic Bilbao has now been postponed.
Cristiano Ronaldo went into isolation in Madeira after it emerged that his Juventus team-mate, Daniele Rugani, has coronavirus.
Another Juventus player, Paulo Dybala, has also tested positive according to reports and he has been placed in quarantine.
The Football Association of Ireland announced that all football under its jurisdiction will cease until March 29.
Liverpool have announced a charity match between a Reds Legends side and Barcelona Legends, due to be played at Anfield on March 28, has been postponed.
FIFA says it will postpone South American World Cup qualifying matches due to take place in March.
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta tested positive for coronavirus on March 12 with the entire first-team squad being put into isolation. The Gunners’ game against Brighton, scheduled for Saturday March 14, has been postponed.
In the early hours of Friday, March 13, Chelsea announced that winger Callum Hudson-Odoi had been diagnosed with the illness.
The club’s first team have gone into self-isolation, while two buildings at their training ground in Cobham have been closed. Their game against Aston Villa, scheduled for Saturday March 14, appears certain to be postponed.
Thursday’s Europa League clash between Olympiakos on Wolves took place behind closed doors after an order by the government in Greece, but Wolves have asked UEFA to delay the fixture.
England’s friendly against Italy at Wembley in March is still set to go ahead, as per a tweet from England football’s account on March 11. England are also set to play Denmark in March.
Israel has warned citizens to avoid all international travel, which raises questions whether supporters or players will travel to Scotland for their Euro 2020 play-off match on March 26.
Growing concerns that some matches at Euro 2020 could be called off if the coronavirus outbreak gets worse between now and the summer. The tournament is set to be multi-city. UEFA admit they are in a ‘waiting stage’ and must follow the orders of the individual countries involved. However, FA Chairman Greg Clarke has stated that he expects the tournament to go ahead.
Premier League games are ‘likely’ to be played behind closed doors ‘in the coming weeks’ over coronavirus fears, Everton board member Sasha Ryazantsev has warned, in line with the action taken in Serie A.
Chelsea’s Champions League last-16 second leg at Bayern Munich is also heading towards being postponed, it was revealed on March 13.
Football bodies across England and the rest of Europe are bracing themselves for a reported total shutdown of every league until September. UEFA will hold a meeting on Tuesday, March 17 will be crucial in sorting the fate of the 2019-20 season.
The Australian Grand Prix has been called off after a McLaren team member came down with Covid-19, leading to the British team pulling out prior to a decision being made on whether the race would still go ahead.
The announcement came hours after Lewis Hamilton said it was ‘shocking’ that the race was going ahead.
The Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai on April 19 is postponed with no decision over whether it will be reinserted into the 2020 calendar for later in the season.
The Bahrain Grand Prix, scheduled for March 20-22, is set to be called off as is the inaugural Vietnam Grand Prix (scheduled to take place in Hanoi on April 5).
The Chinese GP was first to be cancelled and other races could yet follow that lead
There is hope that the F1 season can begin on May 3. F1 chiefs are looking to press on with the Zandvoort race in Holland on that date.
The Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific golf championship, slated to take place from February 12-15 in Thailand, was postponed and has been rescheduled for October.
The Honda LPGA Thailand event in Pattaya, Thailand scheduled for February 20-23 along with the HSBC Women’s World Championship in Singapore, scheduled to start on February 27, were both postponed
The PGA Tour Series-China postponed two qualifying tournaments and delayed the start of its 2020 campaign by two months, cutting the number of regular season events down from 14 to 10.
The decision was made to cancel the LPGA Blue Bay tournament in China, with the event at Hainan Island (due to start on March 5) seen as dangerous to players’ health
The European Tour postponed the Maybank Championship (April 16-19 in Kuala Lumpur) and Volvo China Open (April 23-26 in Shenzhen).
After deciding to play with no spectators from the second round of the Players Championship onwards, the PGA Tour cancelled the event entirely after the first round on Thursday 12 March.
They have also scrapped their next three events, meaning there will be no PGA Tour events prior to the first major of the year, The Masters, in April. However, on Friday 13 March the prestigious Augusta tournament was also postponed.
In a statement released online, Fred Ridley, Chairman of Augusta National Golf Club, emphasised that the decision makers hope to hold the prestigious tournament ‘at some later date’.
The first men’s major championship of the year was due to begin on April 9 in Georgia, but has been suspended due to the escalating pandemic.
Lorenzo Gagli and Edoardo Molinari were withdrawn from the Oman Open on medical grounds after Gagli showed symptoms of the virus. He shared a hotel room with Molinari and he was told to self-isolate. They were later reinstated to the tournament after testing negative for the virus.
The Japan Racing Association revealed that ‘government-sanctioned races’ will go behind closed doors.
Two race meetings in France next week are to take place behind closed doors in a response to the coronavirus outbreak.
Monday’s jumps card and the Wednesday fixture on the Flat at Compiegne will have no paying customers, with the order coming from the mayor of the town and the president of the Compiegne Racing Society.
Racing in Ireland is to take place behind closed doors starting until March 29.
The Cheltenham Festival went ahead despite travel disruption caused by the virus
Scotland Women’s Six Nations match with Italy on February 23 is postponed due to an outbreak in the Milan area.
And the Women’s match between Wales and Scotland in the Six Nations on March 15 is also off after one Scottish player tested positive for the virus.
Ireland’s Six Nations meeting with Italy on March 7 is postponed.
Ospreys and Ulster’s Pro14 trips to play in Italy on February 29 are postponed. Ospreys were due to play Zebre in Parma with Treviso the venue for Ulster’s game against Benetton.
Ireland’s Six Nations encounter with Italy on March 7 has been postponed
The Italian Rugby Federation suspended its National Championship and youth games for February 28-March 1.
Hong Kong Rugby Sevens is postponed, which is a blow to Olympic preparations for Team GB.
England’s final Six Nations game against Italy is off ‘with the intention to reschedule it at a later date’. The same applies to the corresponding women’s and U20s fixtures. All were due to be played on March 13-15.
Meanwhile, France’s Six Nations clash with Ireland on March 14 has been pushed back with the French government taking measures against sporting events.
Scottish rugby announced preparations ‘continue as normal’ as they discuss with French rugby whether to proceed with their Six Nations match on March 8 following a second coronavirus death in France.
All of Italy’s remaining Six Nations fixtures – they are due to host England in their final game on March 14 – are in serious doubt given the scale of the outbreak in Italy.
Fears of the virus spreading then prompted ITV to abandon plans to send commentators and pundits out to Rome for England’s game against Italy in Rome.
All events on the ATP Tour have been suspended for six weeks.
The BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells in California, set to start on March 9, was postponed at the eleventh hour. It came after a confirmed case of the coronavirus in the nearby Coachella Valley.
The final of an ATP Challenger event in Bergamo, Italy, between Enzo Couacaud and Illya Marchenko of Ukraine is cancelled. Both players received ranking points and prize money for getting to the final. They were denied the opportunity to play behind closed doors.
China forfeited a Davis Cup tie because the men’s team were unable to travel to Romania for the March 6-7 playoff.
WTA event Xi’an Open (set for April 13-19) is cancelled due to fears over player safety. WTA announced they are assessing their schedule with a number of events set for China in the second half of the season.
The International Tennis Federation has announced that next month’s Fed Cup finals have been postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The event was due to be held in Budapest and the competition’s play-offs, which were set to take place in eight different locations, have also been placed on hold.
The WTA also announced no tournaments will be staged for at least five weeks.
Japan’s home Davis Cup tie against Ecuador next week is now set to be played behind closed doors.
Players will be banned from handing their towels to ball-kids at next week’s BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, organisers said on Friday.
MotoGP have cancelled their first two races of the season in Qatar and Thailand. Moto2 and Moto3 will though run in Qatar though as they were already based at the track for pre-season testing.
Cycling’s United Arab Emirates Tour has been cancelled with Chris Froome tested for coronavirus and Mark Cavendish put into lockdown in his hotel room.
South Korean baseball league cancelled all 50 pre-season game which were slated to take place from March 14-24. It is the first time since the leagues inception in 1982 that an entire set of exhibition matches are off.
The first-stage draw for the Table Tennis World Championships, scheduled for South Korea from March 22-29, is postponed.
A beach volleyball tournament, due to be held in Yangzhou from April 22-26, is postponed until after the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
World Short track speed skating championship in Seoul is cancelled.
Next month’s World Triathlon Series event in Abu Dhabi was postponed on Saturday as a precautionary measure.
The event was due to take place from March 5 to March 7 in the city, which has reported new cases of the virus.
Event organisers said they still hoped to reschedule the event to take place later in March or April.
The Women’s World Ice Hockey Championships, scheduled for Canada later this month, have been cancelled.
The NBA has also been suspended indefinitely after two Utah Jazz players contracted the virus.
The NHL has announced it has paused the 2019-20 season with no date confirmed for when it will resume.
The London marathon has been postponed for six months. It was scheduled to take place on April 26 but has now been pushed back to October.
All 72 pre-season baseball games in Japan are to take place behind closed doors
The Japanese professional baseball league made the decision to play their 72 pre-season games behind closed doors until March 15. Baseball is among the most popular sports in Japan.
In an aid to decrease risks of exposure to the virus, the NBA have told players to avoid taking items such as pens, markers, balls and jerseys from autograph seekers.
The South Korean baseball league regular season is in doubt ahead of the first round of matches on March 28. An emergency meeting has been called.
Doubts remain as the Asian weightlifting championships, scheduled for March, are relocated from Kazakhstan to neighbouring Uzbekistan. They could still be postponed.
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