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English Premier League suspended indefinitely, players to be asked for wage cut

The league had had a tentative return date of April 30. It now will return to play only "when it is safe and appropriate to do so.”

Soccer’s English Premier League was suspended indefinitely Friday following a meeting of its 20 clubs, which discussed financial painkiller measures including asking players to take a substantial pay cut during the coronavirus pandemic.

Having previously given a tentative — and improbable — return date of April 30, the world’s richest league said the season would not resume play then and “will only return when it is safe and appropriate to do so,” and only with the full support of government and medical guidance.

Teams have nine or 10 games left to play, with Liverpool — the leader by 25 points — needing two more wins to clinch its first title since 1990.

The FA Cup is at the quarterfinal stage.

“There is a combined objective for all remaining domestic league and cup matches to be played,” the league said, “enabling us to maintain the integrity of each competition.”

UEFA, in a letter signed by the European Club Association and the European Leagues, has urged members not to abandon their seasons. Halting leagues without approval from UEFA could see teams blocked from qualifying for the Champions League and Europa League; qualifiers are determined based on final positions in domestic standings.

The meeting, held by video conference, came at the end of a week when Premier League players came under growing pressure to forego some of their salaries to help protect the jobs of club staff. Tottenham and Newcastle are among the teams that have furloughed non-playing staff during soccer’s shutdown. On Thursday, British health secretary Matt Hancock called on Premier League players to “take a pay cut and play their part.”

The league said clubs agreed to consult players over a wage deduction or deferral of 30 percent “in the face of substantial and continuing losses,” adding there would be meeting Saturday between the players union, the league, players, and club representatives.

Talks were held separately Friday between captains of the Premier League clubs over the creation of a fund to raise money for Britain’s National Health Service, which is being overwhelmed during the pandemic.

Following its meeting, the league said it was committing $24 million to the National Health Service and other vulnerable groups.

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