West Ham F.C.’s Karren Brady Outlines Challenges For Return Of Premier League Soccer Games
After postponing the English Premier League on March 11 due to the vast spread of the coronavirus, 20 clubs held a conference call on Friday to discuss their goal of returning to the pitch this season to play the remaining ten games each team has left. Because England is on lock-down until early May, the earliest possible start date would have to be in June. If and when a return date is agreed upon, the next challenge will be taking proper precautions to ensure players, media and staff are not susceptible to the virus as a minimum of 300 people will be required in stadiums logistically to conduct matches, West Ham Football Club executive Karren Brady said.
“Police officers will need to be at games even if they are behind closed doors, as some supporters will travel to the stadium, even if they cannot come in to watch,” Brady wrote Saturday in UK newspaper The Sun. “But the police will want to ensure attending matches does not drain resources away from other matters. “Everyone at the stadium – and even behind closed doors this is about 300-500 people – including security, staff, medical officers, players, referees and media, will have to have temperature checks, fill out health questionnaires and observe social distancing. All this is manageable but what if a player gets injured, where do we send him? It can’t be to an NHS hospital that is already under pressure … so then what?”
The other issue is keeping players fit. Brady later addressed concerns about how players are expected to stay in shape when social distancing rules don’t allow them to practice together.
“Players will have been able to retain some physical fitness at home, but if social-distancing rules are still in place, physical match-play training will not be allowed,” Brady wrote. “You can’t tackle from two meters away. So, how match-fit will players be if the season commences, as we all hope it will, by mid-June?”
West Ham currently sits in 16th out of 20 teams just above the relegation zone.