The Premier League look set to resume playing on June 19, which is (probably) great. But just eleven days after that, those who are in the final year of their contracts, will technically become free agents.
For Chelsea, this includes Willian, Pedro, Olivier Giroud, and Willy Caballero, the first three of whom were full-time starters before the coronavirus hit! And while Chelsea’s injury crisis will have lessened, if not gone away completely by the time we return, those veterans will still be very much needed in a congested fixture list to play out the remaining 9-10 games as quickly as possible.
To help manage this situation, last month FIFA already agreed a provision to allow teams to extend contracts beyond June 30 as long as necessary, and today, the Premier League have officially confirmed that possibility as well.
“What we decided today is to ensure as far as possible that clubs complete the season with the same squad they had available prior to the suspension of the campaign. Players can extend their contracts beyond 30 June until the end of the season, but it must be agreed by both parties.”
-Richard Masters, Premier League CEO; source: Premier League
Clubs have until June 23 to agree extensions, otherwise players will be added to the released list and will be free to agree contracts with any other team, including in England (prior to that, they will have been able to agree Bosman transfers already to other teams outside of England).
The new short-term contracts can run until the end of the season, however long that may be, but probably not too much longer than one extra month. All parties concerned, including UEFA, will want seasons to be done by August so that we can open the transfer window, start preparing for next season, and maybe also play out the rest of the 2019-20 Champions and Europa Leagues.
Obviously, there could be some legal challenges to all this after all is said and done — and Hakim Ziyech still won’t be able to play until after the season is officially done — but this move is surely part of the best known solution to get the Premier League playing again.
Fun times ahead!