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Gareth McAuley

How the Premier League can keep going during the coronavirus crisis

Gareth McAuley


Liverpool have enjoyed a record-breaking Premier League season, having already won the European Super Cup and Club World Cup (Adam Davy/PA)

Liverpool have enjoyed a record-breaking Premier League season, having already won the European Super Cup and Club World Cup (Adam Davy/PA)

Liverpool have enjoyed a record-breaking Premier League season, having already won the European Super Cup and Club World Cup (Adam Davy/PA)

There is no way Premier League chiefs will allow this season to come to a premature conclusion.

The money the League would be set to lose is astronomical.

You are talking three quarters of a BILLION pounds.

That's what they would have to pay back to the television broadcasters, sponsors and stakeholders who have invested heavily in the season. And then there would be the lawsuits if Liverpool were not to win the League.

Those in power at Premier League HQ will be coming up with different options and scenarios to make sure all the games are played and the season is concluded.

It may mean the season stretching into July, cancelling all international fixtures, even though they have provisionally booked them in for June, but if that's what it takes, I can assure you football chiefs will give the green light.

And provided the deadly coronavirus dissipates enough to make the country safe again, you will not hear any dissenting voices from the government for the season to be extended. The taxes the Premier League pays each year are huge and at this moment in time, the country needs every penny it can get.

When I was with West Brom in the Premier League, I attended a number of seminars with the Professional Football Association body and they took us through the financial numbers involved - they were off the charts.

Football, we were told last week, will not resume in this country until April 30 at the earliest as the country strives to eradicate or at least slow down COVID-19.

It's a depressing state of affairs as for many people, football is much more than a game, and the Premier League an entertainment industry - it consumes their entire life.

The world without sport is an incredibly dull and bleak place.

The health of the nation though must come first and the lockdown is completely necessary.

But there could be a solution, a chance for Premier League footballers to give something back to the country. It would involve sacrifice, but then most of these footballers are living a life of privilege, so compared to the incredible sacrifices made by our amazing NHS staff on the frontline, it would be a small price to pay.

Every Premier League club would be able to afford it and the hospitality sector could benefit.

I'm suggesting, once we know all Premier League footballers are clean of the coronavirus to quarantine the players away in hotels close to the stadiums or training centres for a month.

A limited number of staff would be with them but no family or friends and it the club would work on a skeleton staff.

The players would simply train and be ensconced in their hotel, which would obviously have undergone a deep clean before they arrived. Their only contact with the outside world would be through electronic communications.

The likes of Tottenham, Chelsea and Manchester United all have hotels on their doorstep and other Premier League clubs could easily find accommodation within a small radius of their stadium, training complex.

Match officials would also be put in a seclusion zone.

Then come April 30 or even before, the teams would hopefully play games 'behind closed doors', with the match screened on television. There would be no pre or post match face-to-face interviews with broadcasters/journalists and the number of people inside the stadium would be minimal.

It would give the nation something to watch, to get excited about and be the release people need from the boredom.

Games could be staggered throughout the days.

It could definitely work in the Premier League and I would say most teams in the Championship could afford to do it.

A desperate measure, but then these are unprecedented times.

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Belfast Telegraph