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Premier League boss explains why ‘really hard to imagine’ matches kicking off again on 4 April

2 years ago

An impressive interview from this Premier League boss, Paul Barber, in terms of discussing the Coronavirus situation and how football could/should deal with it.

An interview on another level to the desperately seeking attention (as always) Karren Brady in her newspaper column earlier today.

Paul Barber is CEO of Brighton and was speaking on BBC1’s Football Focus.

He says that the Premier League as a whole are going to do everything they can to complete the full schedule of fixtures. However, he also acknowledges that playing games as quickly as the 4 April may just not prove practical, using the example of any players self-isolating for two weeks, needing between one and two more weeks to get fully match fit again.

Paul Barber adding; ‘If we can’t complete the season we have to look at radical solutions to get over a short-term hump.’

The Brighton CEO points to Liverpool effectively already having the title in the bag and it would be unjust for them not to be champions BUT points out how arguably even more unjust it would be to have clubs relegated without having these final games as a chance to save themselves.

To get around the relegation issue, he suggests the possibility of no relegation for this season, promote the two Championship clubs in the automatic promotion places, then have 22 clubs next season in the Premier League with four going down and only two coming up again.

The way it now looks is that there is unlikely to be any outcome that will see everybody happy, so good to see somebody in authority that is looking for solutions that would minimise real damage to clubs.

Brighton’s chief executive Paul Barber speaking on Football Focus:

“We have got several teams in self isolation, which makes it difficult to think about that date (4 April for resumption of Premier League matches).

“Those players have not just got to self-isolate for 14 days, they have got to get themselves close to match fitness again, which could take another seven to 14 days. So we’ve got a number of complexities here, which go way beyond thinking of the finances.

“Every league starts with an expectation of completing all 38 fixtures, as it is in the Premier League, and we want to be able to do that.

“Our intention must be to play the fixtures but it’s really hard to imagine putting on a football game in the Premier League in two or three weeks’ time given the scenario we are in.

“If we were to freeze the league it would be incredibly unjust for Liverpool to not be awarded the title, because everybody in the game appreciates what a fantastic season they have had, equally it would be unjust for teams to be relegated with nine or 10 games to go in the Premier League.

“I think it’s a possible option to leave the 20 teams in the league as it is but bring the top two in the Championship up.

“It gives us a larger league, with four relegation places next season and then two teams coming up again. It has some merit but there are a lot of issues to be worked through.

“If we can’t complete the season we have to look at radical solutions to get over a short-term hump, as it is.”


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