Coronavirus: No alternative to closed-doors football games, says PFA chief executive

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March 23, 2020
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    Goodison Park

    Elite-level football in Britain was suspended on 13 March

    Players accept that matches will have to be held behind closed doors when the football season resumes, says Professional Footballers’ Association deputy chief executive Bobby Barnes.

    Football in England is suspended until at least 30 April because of the coronavirus pandemic, although the Football Association, Premier League and EFL want the season to be finished.

    “In an ideal world we’d be playing in front of crowds but I think it’s more a case of there being no alternative,” Barnes told The Athletic.

    “Players are realistic. We’re not in an ideal world and the players I’ve spoken to accept that’s what it will have to be.

    “I’ve been speaking to players on a daily basis and the conversations were based around not wanting to play behind closed doors if at all possible.

    “Football is about fans. But the reality for the vast majority of the players, particularly at the highest level, is 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.”

    Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk, whose side are 25 points clear at the top of the Premier League, said he would be “gutted” for the club’s fans if they were absent when the Premier League title was secured.

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    But Barnes believes players are coming round to the idea of playing matches in empty stadiums.

    “If we’re going to get the season finished in a timely fashion so we can even consider starting next season, we’ve got to be open to all options,” added Barnes.

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