Arsenal have reportedly been lined up to face Liverpool in next season’s Community Shield, regardless of their FA Cup performance.
The three-month coronavirus shutdown has played havoc with the football calendar and next season’s start date has yet to be confirmed.
Whilst the FA are still determined to stage the traditional curtain-raiser between the Premier League champions and the FA Cup winners in order to avoid paying a rebate to broadcasters, their plans have been impacted by UEFA’s schedule for the Europe and Champions League.
The Community Shield is anticipated to be held at some point in August, which means it could clash with UEFA’s tournaments.
With the other three FA Cup semi-finalists – Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea – all still involved in European competitions, they may not be available for the proposed date of the Community Shield.
The Daily Mail report that the FA’s preferred option if the FA Cup winners are unavailable is to invite the most successful club in the Community Shield’s history to take part.
Arsenal have lifted the trophy 15 times, which would mean they would be the side to face Liverpool at Wembley.
It may well be a last-minute switch of teams, however, with the other clubs in the FA Cup only likely to be unavailable should they reach the final of their respective European tournaments.
If they get knocked out beforehand, it is likely that they will be available to play against Liverpool.
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The reported date of the Community Shield is currently August 30, with the Europa and Champions League finals taking place the week before.
Coincidentally, the Gunners were the last team to decline an invite to the Community Shield when they opted instead to play lucrative friendly matches in 1971.
A previously reported solution would have seen the winners of the Championship – which is likely to be either Leeds United or West Bromwich Albion – take part, but it now appears that the Gunners are favourites to face Liverpool.