Professional football in England will remain suspended until 30 April at the earliest as the scourge of coronavirus continues unabated.
The Premier League, English Football League and Football Association have, however, committed to concluding the 2019/2020 season after they amended current rules which stipulated that the current season must end on 1 June.
With the rule change, the Football Association say the current season can be “extended indefinitely”.
The English Premier League, EFL, Women’s Super League and Women’s Championship, and all fixtures in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, are currently postponed.
The Premier League had hoped to resume on 4 April with the EFL scheduled to restart a day earlier.
A joint statement issued by the FA, Premier League and EFL expressed “a commitment to finding ways of resuming the 2019-20 season” and completing all domestic and European matches “as soon as it is safe and possible to do so”.
An FA statement read: ”The FA, Premier League, EFL and women’s professional game, together with the PFA and LMA, understand we are in unprecedented times and our thoughts are with everyone affected by COVID-19.
”We’re united in our commitment to finding ways of resuming the 2019-20 football season and ensuring all domestic and European club league and cup matches are played as soon as it is safe and possible to do so.
”We’ve collectively supported UEFA in postponing EURO 2020 to create space in the calendar to ensure domestic and European club league and cup matches have an increased opportunity to be played and, in doing so, maintain the integrity of each competition.
The FA’s Rules and Regulations state that “the season shall terminate not later than the 1 June” and “each competition shall, within the limit laid down by The FA, determine the length of its own playing season”.
”However, our Board has agreed for this limit to be extended indefinitely for the 2019-20 season in relation to professional football. Additionally, we’ve collectively agreed that the professional game in England will be further postponed until no earlier than Thursday 30 April.
”The progress of COVID-19 remains unclear and we can reassure everyone the health and welfare of players, staff and supporters are our priority.
”We will continue to follow Government advice and work collaboratively to keep the situation under review and explore all options available to find ways of resuming the season when the conditions allow.
”We would all like to re-emphasise that our thoughts are with everyone affected by COVID-19.”
The extension of the postponement raises questions about the viability of ending the season on 30 June as agreed by UEFA after a meeting on Tuesday.
European football governing body postponed Euro 2020 by one year to open up a window for domestic leagues to conclude in June.