Newcastle boss Steve Bruce has called for football to be suspended in the wake of the coronavirus crisis as Premier League chiefs decide on the best way forward.
Bosses were due to meet on Friday morning as Bruce prepared his players for Saturday’s clash with Sheffield United, all the while knowing the game may not go ahead.
With Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta and Chelsea midfielder Callum Hudson-Odoi having tested positive, and the Leicester camp also affected, the sport has already been hit by Covid-19 and Bruce believes the only alternative is to shut the game down.
He said: “I think that’s the only viable solution to it because now, if you go behind closed doors and you’ve got managers and players affected by it then how are they going to play their games?
“I don’t think there’s any other alternative. For me, suspend it, shut it down and wait until everybody gets the all-clear.”
Asked about Arteta, he replied: “Of course, we’ve crossed paths over the years, but I don’t know him personally at all. But like everybody else, we wish him well and hope that he recovers well.”
Newcastle were among the first clubs to take action over the outbreak when they banned players and staff from their customary morning handshakes, and while Bruce confirmed that nobody at the training ground has yet been affected, individual training plans have already been drawn up should a suspension be put in place.
He said: “We’re all talking about it – you can’t help but, even certain precautions today as you come into the training ground.
“My thought yesterday was to my staff, what happens if somebody in football contracts it? Lo and behold within 24 hours, we’ve got managers and players, and that’s only going to increase, by the look of it.
“It’s a difficult situation for all and we’ll obviously await a phone call in the next couple of hours and see where we’re at.
“To play behind closed doors is not the answer, in my opinion. For me, suspend it, shut it down and re-arrange it for another date when we’re a bit more clear about the whole situation.
“The welfare of everybody is definitely key to this. The welfare of every individual is far more important than a football match.”