One issue the Premier League could face if it decides to resume this season is push back from some players. We would imagine that a few footballers will be reluctant to put their health or the general public’s health at risk over a sport while a worldwide pandemic rages around them.
If the games do get back underway, it’ll only happen if the spread of the coronavirus has been curtailed significantly. One way to mitigate spread to the general public will be to play games behind closed doors. However, that still will leave players, staff, and medical personnel at some risk.
Bobby Barnes– PFA deputy chief executive
Professional Footballers’ Association deputy chief executive (that’s a mouthful) Bobby Barnes has spoken to the Athletic about some of the conversations he’s recently had with some players.
It seems after an initial reluctance to playing games without supporters, many have come to accept that will be the only path forward to save this season:
“I think it’s more a case of there being no alternative. Players are realistic. In an ideal world, we would be playing in front of crowds. But we’re not in an ideal world and certainly, the players I’ve spoken to accept that if that is what it’s going to be, that’s what it will have to be.
“I’ve been speaking to players — including two or three very high-profile Premier League players more or less on a daily basis — and the conversations I had with them at the outset were based around not wanting to play behind closed doors if at all possible.
“I said to them, ‘Look, none of us, in an ideal world, want to play in front of empty stadiums. Football is about fans. But the reality is that for the vast majority of the players, particularly at the highest level, their income is funded by television money and there are contracts that have to be adhered to.
“In order for us (the PFA) to be able to protect those players in terms of securing their salaries… if that’s the only offer we have on the table to complete the season, then that is what it will be’.
“To be fair, most players very much took that on board when we spoke to them. The players get it. They understand the alternative. Quite frankly, if we’re going to get the season finished in a timely fashion so that we can even consider starting next season, we’ve got to be open to all options.
“If it means playing behind closed doors has to happen in order that contracts are protected, fixtures fulfilled and commercial deals honored, then I think we’ve all got to come together and accept we’ve all got to make sacrifices to try and find a solution for the industry as a whole.”
From Barnes’ comments, it seems like most players are willing to do what it takes to get this season completed. However, we are still far from a point where that is even going to be a possibility.
It simply won’t happen if this pandemic is not significantly under control.
The Premier League will meet again during the first week of April. We’ll see what comes from that meeting, but we don’t think they’ll cancel the season then. They’ll likely wait until it becomes crystal clear that is the only option.
Hopefully, it never reaches that point, and this pandemic can be managed and contained. It’s still uncertain when that will happen.