Premier League and EFL have suspended games amid the coronavirus outbreak
The Premier League and English Football League (EFL) have confirmed that fixtures will be suspended until the first weekend in April, following the coronavirus outbreak.
In a joint statement released today (13 March), the Premier League, EFL and Football Association have confirmed that no games will be played until after 3 April 2020, at the earliest. That means Premier League, Championship, League One and Two clubs will be out of action for the next three weeks.
Indeed, the league blackout could quickly be extended beyond the initial dates set, should the respective bodies feel it is necessary.
The full statement
The full statement read, "The FA, Premier League, EFL and Barclays FA Women’s Super League and FA Women’s Championship have collectively agreed to postpone the professional game in England until 3 April at the earliest.
"This action, which will be kept under constant review, has been taken due to the increasing numbers of clubs taking steps to isolate their players and staff because of the COVID-19 virus.
"The postponements include all matches in the Championship, League One and League Two, as well as all academy and youth team fixtures.
"In addition, clubs are being advised to suspend indefinitely all non-essential activities which include, but are not limited to, player appearances, training ground visits and fan meetings.
"Whilst the EFL Board has continued to take the advice and guidance offered by the Government and its health advisors, emerging developments mean now is the time to implement football’s contingency plans in response to the crisis.
"A further update on these plans will be given post an EFL Board Meeting next week.
"This decision has not been taken lightly, but the EFL must prioritise the health and well-being of players, staff and supporters while also acknowledging the Government’s national efforts in tackling this outbreak."
'Worst public health crisis for a generation'
On Thursday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson – who has labelled coronavirus as the “worst public health crisis for a generation” – said the Government was "considering the question of banning major sporting events".
He said the evidence suggests it will "have little effect on the spread" of coronavirus, though such events did place a burden on public services.
However, the situation escalated overnight, with the confirmation that Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta had tested positive plus other cases at Bournemouth, Everton and Chelsea, leading the Premier League and EFL to arrange an emergency meeting on Friday.