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Government will allow Premier League to resume without curtailment rules on relegation

Ben Rumsby
Aston Villa and Norwich - Action Images via Reuters 

Premier League clubs have not breached Government guidelines by refusing to decide how the season will end if Project Restart stalls, Telegraph Sport can reveal.

The world’s richest league headed off a row on Thursday over what happens to promotion and relegation if the coronavirus crisis forces it to curtail the campaign by agreeing to see whether the Championship manages to finish first.

The Department for Culture, Media & Sport’s return to competition guidelines for all sports state there should “an agreed procedure in place to modify, restrict, postpone or cancel the competition”.

A Government source told Telegraph Sport on Friday that did not mean an agreement had to be reached on the outcome of curtailment before a competition could resume, merely that a process had to be in place for such a decision to be taken when necessary.

In the case of the Premier League, that process would involve a regulation change to be voted on by its 20 clubs, with a two-thirds majority required for any such change to pass.

However, failing to reach a decision before the season resumes on June 17 represents a major gamble by top-flight clubs.

A row over relegation would be even more intense if the competition was to restart but the virus forced its abandonment – particularly if the make-up of the bottom three altered in that time.

Putting off a decision could also put the Premier League on a collision course with the English Football League, which wants promotion and relegation to take place across the professional game come what may.

It has insisted the process is fundamental to the tripartite agreement between the Premier League, EFL and Football Association, the latter of which holds a golden share in the top flight and could block the scrapping of relegation.

Telegraph Sport revealed last month that Premier League clubs were threatening to oppose promotion from the Championship if the second tier could complete the season and this was formally raised during a shareholders meeting on Thursday.

Deciding the mechanism for so-called curtailment was one of the outstanding issues due to be discussed at that meeting, with the expectation that it would be voted on next week.

However, it was decided that curtailment, and what happens, should be dealt with only if it takes place and depending on the circumstances.

One example in which relegation could be enforced would be if one or more clubs were mathematically unable to finish outside the bottom three when the season is abandoned.