Professional Soccer Eyeing a Return to Action
Two of the biggest soccer leagues in the world are starting to make plans to return to action over the next few weeks. Major League Soccer (MLS) in the United States and the English Football League have both been creating plans to get their games resumed to conclude their current seasons at some point this summer. There are still plenty of issues to be sorted out before matches take place, but it’s a positive sign that the leagues are developing plans.
Major League Soccer has suspended their season through at least May 10, but there is a strong likelihood that the date will need to be pushed back even further. MLS Commissioner Don Garber spoke with ESPN reporters on Monday and stated that the league is hoping to get in as many matches as possible when they can resume play.
The league is looking at alternate formats of play, that could include a tournament-like setup to get games in as quickly as possible.
Another option that could be presented to teams in the MLS is playing games in a neutral location. The belief from Garber and the rest of the leaders of MLS is that even when games do resume, there is a strong possibility that they will be played without fans in the stands.
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MLS is closely monitoring the situation in England and Germany and will implement some of the same standards when play resumes.
Currently, Major League Soccer teams are not able to hold workouts through April 24, but commissioner Garber has stated that the date will be extended by a few weeks. All players are still getting paid their normal salary, but that could all change depending on how long the suspension lasts.
The MLS Players Association believes that teams are well equipped to make it through the coronavirus pandemic, and they are not expecting to see any salary cuts.
MLS announced last week that all three of their top executives would take a pay cut of up to 25% to help the league get through the pandemic. Real Salt Lake recently decided to cut some salary from employees, and have furloughed others. Other teams around the league are expected to follow suit over the next few weeks.
Getting Going Again
Meanwhile, over in Europe, the English Football League has set a target date of June 6 to resume their matches. The EFL will host these matches without fans at the resumption of play, but at least they have chosen a start date. The English Premier League has not announced its plans, but sources believe that they will likely follow the same general plan.
Almost all football in Europe has been shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Belarus Premier League has remained playing games amidst the pandemic, but they are currently the only one.
The countries of Spain and Italy have suspended football indefinitely, as these two countries have been hit hard by the pandemic. In Germany, the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 have been allowed to begin training with their teams in preparations for games to be played in mid-May.
The English Football League includes League One, League Two, and The Championship is hoping to have a mini-preseason beginning on May 16 before matches resume on June 6. The league has noted that all final decisions will have to be approved by health and government officials.
The resumption of play is especially important for Leeds United. They currently sit in first place for a promotion to the English Premier League. Leeds has not played in the EPL since 2004 after being relegated.