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 Premier League start 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 English Football League is likely to start on August 29 although some Championship clubs would prefer to follow the Premier League with September 12.
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 with Euro 2020 pushed back to start on June 11, 2021.
Choosing September 12 would 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-19 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 with its two-legged semi-finals.
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 although that vote is unlikely to take place until the next meeting in two weeks' time.
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 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 the FA attempt to salvage what is the traditional curtain-raiser to the season but senior figures are increasingly resigned to the fixture being cancelled especially if fans are not allowed in.
In theory some players, such as Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling, will have no break between this season and next should his team go all the way to the Champions League Final. It may well be, though, that England manager Gareth Southgate is sympathetic and omits Sterling.
Another matter that needs to be resolved is when the summer transfer window opens and closes. The window was due to open in most leagues on July 1 and end on August 31 and Premier League chief executive Richard Masters has already stated it will not open until after the season has ended on July 26. The expectation is that it will then begin the following day with the preferred date for closing the window for Premier League clubs being October 5, which is the date Uefa wants all leagues to complete their trading period.