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How to spread the wealth? - Dilemma on cards over prize money

 

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CONCERNS: Gary Neville wonders if it will still even be possible to finish the season behind closed doors. Photo: PA

CONCERNS: Gary Neville wonders if it will still even be possible to finish the season behind closed doors. Photo: PA

CONCERNS: Gary Neville wonders if it will still even be possible to finish the season behind closed doors. Photo: PA

Premier League chiefs will face a huge dilemma over how to distribute prize money if this season fails to reach a conclusion amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

While the Premier League has expressed a collective eagerness to complete the season, UEFA's current deadline of June 30 for all domestic competitions to conclude means English football would need to return by mid-May if that target was to be met.

With the British government expected to introduce lockdown measures in the coming days in a bid to stem the spread of Covid-19 after a weekend that saw thousands of Britons fill parks and beaches despite advice to stay at home, the prospect of a return to football any time soon seems unlikely, with many Premier League clubs informing their players that they will not be expected to return to training until mid-April at the earliest.

Amid a growing expectation that the Italian Serie A season will be abandoned, English football may find itself alone in trying to finish their season and at some point, a vote from all 20 Premier League clubs may be required to decide whether to declare the season void.

Yet that would throw up a host of legal issues, with prize money among the points likely to be argued about by clubs that have played a different number of matches in the current campaign.

Liverpool topped the prize money charts last season as they pocketed £152,425,146, with the Anfield club just edging ahead of champions Manchester City (£150,986,355) courtesy of having three more live televised matches.

The team that wins the league collects £38,370,360 in a merit payment, with the runners-up receiving £36,451,842 and in the event of the season being voided, Premier League chiefs may be forced to award those payments based on current league positions.

Each Premier League team received £34,361,519 last season as a base figure, with additional payments of £42,184,608 from a lucrative set of international TV deals.

Commercial fees of £4,965,392 are added to their totals, before the number of TV games they are involved in and the end-of-season prize money payments are added up.

Gary Neville believes behind-close-doors matches could be a way to get the English football season finished, but he admits "a lot of things need to happen" before that prospect can become reality amid the ongoing pandemic.

Speaking to the BBC, The former Manchester United defender and Sky Sports pundit explained the problems which could arise with playing behind closed doors.

"I think at the moment the idea of behind closed doors idea has to come only after the health priority.

"My concern with behind closed doors football at the moment are: 'Will fans turn up outside the stadium? Will fans congregate outside the stadium if their team can get promoted or relegated or if they get into Europe?

"How are we going to stop that? How are the police going to man it?" Neville said. "How are the health services going to react to incidents that occur on the back of it?

"Do we need to put any more pressure on the services?"