Gelson Fernandes on returning to training, the Bundesliga restarting and pay cuts

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April 12, 2020
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    Gelson Fernandes and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

    Eintracht Frankfurt came away from the Emirates with a 2-0 victory over Arsenal in the Europa league in November

    Eintracht Frankfurt midfielder Gelson Fernandes says players “feel lucky” to be back in training and he thinks the Bundesliga could restart in late May.

    German teams were the first from Europe’s top leagues to return to training, with precautions in place, after the coronavirus pandemic caused football to be suspended.

    The Bundesliga, halted on 13 March, will not resume before 30 April.

    “When we come back, it will be behind closed doors,” said Fernandes.

    “I think that will be in late May. It’s impossible to think that in June, July, August, we’d be playing in front of 50,000 people. That would be wrong,” the former Manchester City player, 33, told the BBC’s Sportsworld.

    He says three or four Eintracht Frankfurt players caught coronavirus and they all had to self isolate for 14 days.

    They are currently training in groups of three or four and are not allowed contact with each other – working only on passing and shooting drills. Only three players are allowed in each dressing room and they cannot use the gym.

    “It’s nice to be on the pitch but we are being careful – washing hands and everything – and we feel lucky,” said Fernandes. “That’s the only way we can keep doing our jobs.

    “Physically when I was on my own we had to do a lot of bike work and I didn’t lose much fitness. We are now training but it’s not the same as matches.”

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    Switzerland international Fernandes also said players will need “three or four weeks” to get ready for the season to resume “or there will be injuries”.

    Bundesliga chief executive Christian Seifert told the New York Times plans were being put in place for games to return by the beginning of May, with the remaining nine games of the season to be completed by the end of June.

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    Bayern Munich players return to training in Germany

    ‘Our wages are secured by TV rights’

    Seifert said matches would be played behind closed doors and shown on television.

    Fernandes said players will not be happy to finish the season without fans but are aware their “wages are secured by TV rights”.

    “Playing behind closed doors is not nice but we have to do it. It’s not football but the interests are too big for us to not play,” he added.

    Eintracht Frankfurt players and staff have already taken a 20% pay cut for the next three months.

    “The club was very open with us; they explained to us everything, they explained to us what we are losing, they explained to us why,” Fernandes added.

    “We decided with the club to do a cut to our wages. There is no owner in German football. We know that at the end of the season no owner can come and cover the losses we have so we have to make sure the club survives and make sure the people in our club don’t lose their jobs.”

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    In the Premier League, only Southampton and West Ham players have so far agreed to defer part of their wages.

    Elsewhere in Germany, players and directors at giants Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund have agreed to take temporary pay cuts.

    Players at Union Berlin, 11th in the Bundesliga, announced they will go entirely without their wages.

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