Coronavirus: Premier League 'confident as we can be' but season could still be abandoned

By Sports Desk May 22, 2020

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters is pushing for the 2019-20 season to resume despite admitting the goal of completing the campaign may not be achievable.

Suspended since March due to the coronavirus crisis, there are still nine full rounds of fixtures to be played, while four teams have an extra game on top.

Liverpool are on the brink of winning the title but nothing has been resolved at the top or bottom end of the table.

And Masters admits the Premier League has not broached with its member clubs the question of what might happen if the season has to be abandoned.

"Curtailment is still a possibility and so what would happen in that environment is something we are yet to discuss with our clubs," Masters told BBC Sport.

He says the Premier League is "as confident as we can be" about a return to action, yet it remains the case that nothing has been rubber-stamped.

A June resumption remains the league's target - June 12 has been mooted - but the end of May is already not far away and no precise plans have been confirmed.

Talks have been held over whether clubs will be able to use their own stadiums for games, or whether neutral grounds will be required, and some players have declined to return to training due to COVID-19 concerns.

Six individuals at Premier League clubs tested positive for coronavirus this week, including Burnley assistant boss Ian Woan and Watford player Adrian Mariappa.

Most top-flight stars are back at work though, amid stringent testing and social distancing measures, and Masters said he would also have agreed to train, had he been a player.

Asked what his message would be to players, Masters said: "We've done everything we possibly can to make return to training as safe as possible for you and therefore for you and your family.

"We've put in place testing programmes and all of the different protocols in order to protect you and your livelihood, and we think it's safe to return.

"We have to respect those players that take a decision not to return to training, that is their prerogative."

Questioned on whether he would agree to train, Masters said: "I think I would. I've listened to all the arguments, I've been in the meetings, I've talked to the medical advisers, and I would be comfortable to do so."

The UK government has yet to give the go-ahead for contact training, which would be a major step towards getting the league back up and running.

In terms of the presentation of behind-closed-doors games, Premier League chiefs are looking closely at the example of the Bundesliga, which resumed last weekend.

Masters said: "We're speaking to broadcasters and clubs at the moment about what the Premier League's going to look like on television 

"We've seen the Bundesliga last weekend. I think we'll take a slightly different approach to it, so you may see some new things happening, but we'll announce those things when we're ready."

All games would be played without supporters but there remain concerns over fans gathering outside stadiums.

Masters said a trophy presentation would be organised when the title is won, provided the Premier League could facilitate the handover.

Related items

  • Premier League title gives Leicester 'stardom', says former boss O'Neill Premier League title gives Leicester 'stardom', says former boss O'Neill

    Martin O'Neill has praised Leicester City's progress under Brendan Rodgers and feels the club's famous Premier League title win is still helping them.

    Leicester are on course to reach the Champions League, with the Foxes sitting third in the Premier League table prior to the coronavirus halting top-flight action.

    A remarkable season has seen them equal the Premier League's record for the biggest ever win with the 9-0 triumph at Southampton, as they sit above the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United, Tottenham and Arsenal in the standings.

    The impressive campaign in Rodgers' first full season since joining from Celtic comes after Leicester finished ninth last season, with O'Neill - who managed them between 1995 and 2000, winning two EFL Cups - impressed by what he has seen.

    He thinks Leicester's unbelievable 2016 league success catapulted the club to a new level of stardom, helping to set foundations that make the current team more likely to remain a leading force.

    "Do I think that Leicester can make the Champions League? Oh, very much so," O'Neill said to Stats Perform News.

    "They are in a terrific position. They have played very, very well, they have played a nice brand of football as well. So, good credit to the manager, Brendan, he's done very well there.

    "Their season when they won the league was absolutely and utterly incredible. I suppose it takes the shine away from our particular years there, finishing in the top 10 for about four consecutive seasons and winning a couple of EFL Cups.

    "But overall, Leicester City are a very fine footballing team. They are competing.

    "They are competing financially in the market as well. They are pretty astute, they got a lot of money from Manchester United for the centre-back [Harry Maguire] and then used it accordingly.

    "Of course, winning the league a couple of seasons ago has escalated into some sort of stardom anyway, if not super-stardom.

    "They are a team to be reckoned with, no question about that."

  • Ibrahimovic injured in Milan training session Ibrahimovic injured in Milan training session

    Zlatan Ibrahimovic suffered a potentially major injury in training with Milan on Monday.

    The former Sweden striker hurt the lower area of his calf during a training match, Stats Perform News understands.

    Reports in the Italian media suggest a scan could reveal it to be a serious problem to his Achilles.

    Ibrahimovic, 38, joined Milan as a free agent in December, agreeing a contract until the end of the season.

    He scored three goals in eight Serie A appearances before the coronavirus pandemic caused the league to be suspended in March.

    His second stint at Milan has looked likely to be Ibrahimovic's final crack at the big time after a stellar career.

    Bologna boss Sinisa Mihajlovic recently said that, after speaking to Ibrahimovic, he expected him to leave Milan at the end of the season.

    After starting his career at Malmo, he moved on for spells with Ajax, Juventus, Inter and Barcelona.

    His first spell at Milan began in August 2010 and lasted two years before Paris Saint-Germain called.

    Four successful years at PSG were followed by two seasons at Manchester United. After a 20-month spell at LA Galaxy, Ibrahimovic returned to San Siro.

  • First impressions are wrong half the time - Body-shaming athletes a poor start First impressions are wrong half the time - Body-shaming athletes a poor start

    When I told my friend I was dedicating this blog to footballers like him, right off the bat he knew what I meant. Fat footballers.

    Generally, fat means sluggish, lazy, slow and unskilled. Well, he’s no stranger to hearing these stereotypes. And he’s no stranger to overcoming them either.

    For about 11 years his weight overshadowed small wins like going to four finals, receiving two medals and playing for Ardenne Prep, Jamaica College, Greater Portmore, Naggo Head and Duhaney Park.

    “There was this one time when I went to a match and the opposing coach explained to his players that the right side of the field is the weaker side because there is a big fat boy on there— and there’s no way that this big fat boy can contain any of the players.”

    Sportsmen and women are seen as the best physical specimens because they perform feats many of us can only dream of. Being overweight pokes holes into that ideal with the reaction from fans and even those inside sports like coaches and managers being to misjudge a player’s value and ability.

    “I played numerous positions— forward, midfielder, defender. I enjoyed the defending position most. I engaged in tackles and used my brain to contain quick and skilful players. We had to set up different walls to contain corner and free kicks. It was like guiding a ship!”

    Despite possessing obvious ability, my friend’s body-shaming continued unabated. Body shaming is criticizing or drawing attention to someone’s shape, size or appearance.

    Teammates, players’ parents— it came from all directions. The taunting was overbearing. “Some of the people who body-shamed me were parents, coaches, players, teammates and friends. When I was in prep school, a player’s parent expressed that she doesn’t understand why her son is sitting on the bench when there is a fat boy on the field. She wondered what I had over her son.”

    “Another example is in high school, a coach was giving out letters for summer training. He said to me that he doesn’t allow fat players on his team and the only way I’d get a letter was if I did something about my weight.

    “I asked him if he did anything about it (his weight). He explained that he has always been on the chubbier side. He’s naturally big and so is his family. He then started to tell me how diets and portion control never work for him.

    “To put him out of his misery, I asked if there was an upside to the misconceptions others had of him. I’ve definitely changed some minds. It was the beginning of the football season when all my teammates were talking about who was going to be captain. My coach didn’t announce the captain until minutes before the match. While spectators waited outside the dressing room for us, my coach turned to me and gave me the captain’s armband and told me that I’ll be leading the team for the rest of the season.

    “I didn’t put on my armband before walking out of the dressing room but I led my team out. Usually, the captain leads the team to the game. I could hear spectators asking if I was the captain or not. As I approached the field I asked my fellow teammate to put the armband around my left arm to show the spectators, the rest of the team and the opposing team who was the actual captain.

    “The coach saw me play the year before and knew I was capable.”

    I wanted our discussion to end on a happy note. Still, I asked him if body shaming affected him in any way. He said ‘no.’

    I wasn’t convinced because he remembered the remarks to a ‘t’; as if they were freshly said. I figured they lingered.

    I didn’t bother to tell him that part because I’d rather tell you guys this:

    Please be kinder to players who look like my friend. In no way is body shaming okay.

    Rahkeem Cornwall debuted for the West Indies on August 30, 2019, against India.

    Cornwall does not look like the average cricketer, lean and powerful, light on his or her feet, yet, in just his second match, against Afghanistan in Lucknow, he was the region’s best bowler, grabbing 7-75 and 3-46.

    He also showed in the CPL that he is a dangerous batsman when he gets going and can take a game away from a team with his batting and bowling. At the first-class level, Cornwall has already taken over 300 wickets in just 62 games.

    From Jimbo’s example, maybe there’s something to be said about staying your judgements.

    Please share your thoughts on Twitter (@SportsMax_Carib) or in the comments section on Facebook (@SportsMax). Don’t forget to use #IAmNotAFan. Until next time!

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.