The Premier League’s preferred start date for the new season is September 12 – with the transfer window remaining open until October 5.
Two dates will be discussed for the 2020-21 campaign at a meeting of the 20 clubs on Thursday with the only alternative for the commencement of the Premier League being August 29.
However, the Premier League will make it clear it wants to go with September 12, which was originally named as the latest possible start date without damaging the ‘integrity’ of the competition.
The Premier League needs 34 weekends and four mid-weeks to complete its 38-game programme of matches for each of its 20 clubs, with Uefa having already set a ‘cut off’ date for next season after Euro 2020 was pushed back to June 11, 2021. The Premier League had also looked at August 22 as a start date but this has been ruled out.
Choosing September 12 would, however, have a significant knock-on effect for the Carabao Cup and also the FA Cup. There are growing fears that the Premier League clubs, especially those in European competition, will ask not to compete in the Carabao Cup next season which would be a huge blow to the English Football League.
Indeed, it may be that if the EFL asks for extra funding from the Premier League to help it through the Covid crisis, part of the negotiations will be a compromise on who competes in the Carabao Cup – if it takes place – and the dates available for the competition which still has a two-legged semi-final.
The Football Association is also under pressure to surrender some of the weekend dates for the FA Cup but it will dig its heels in. The organisation, which has recently announced a round of redundancies and cut-backs as its struggles with a financial shortfall of up to £300 million over the next four years, is dependent on the broadcast revenue from the FA Cup.
It therefore wants the Premier League season to begin on August 29 but the expectation is that the clubs will vote for September 12. There will not be a vote on Thursday on the issue – it will probably be decided at the next Premier League meeting in fortnight’s time when the season has ended – but there will be further discussions.
If September 12 is chosen it means that the Premier League season will also begin after international matches are played with England scheduled for a double-header of Iceland away, on September 5, and Denmark away, on September 8, in the Uefa Nations League.
An added headache is that if Manchester City or Manchester United win the FA Cup then the Community Shield is unlikely to take place given the expectation that both clubs will be playing matches in the Champions League and Europa League, which resume in August. It may be that the FA attempts to salvage what is the traditional curtain-raiser to the season – between the Premier League winners and FA Cup winners – but senior figures are increasingly resigned to the fixture being cancelled.
The Premier League will also have to deal with the…