Football’s radical coronavirus contingency

Premier League and English Football Association (FA) bosses are planning for games behind closed doors if the coronavirus spreads.

While UEFA chiefs spent just “two minutes” discussing the potential impact of the growing crisis at a meeting, English football is taking the threat more seriously, The Sun reports.

Contingency options are now being drafted, with the prospect of games in the remainder of the season being played with no fans inside the grounds.

Liverpool supporters had feared that the Reds would not be crowned champions if coronavirus wiped out the end of the season.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson admitted after yesterday’s meeting of the UK government’s Cobra emergency committee that the virus is likely to spread widely.

That increases the likelihood of sport being told to postpone fixtures altogether or agreeing to them being played in front of TV cameras and banks of empty seats.

The Sun understands the FA will accept all government advice and not put up any arguments to contradict the views of health experts.

If health chiefs were to order postponements of matches for a short period, games could still be rescheduled to complete the season on time.

But if the embargo were to be any longer, playing behind closed doors would become a serious option.

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Supermarkets have been running low on supplies as people stock up to prepare for coronavirus to spread.Source:AFP

One issue, however, would be the possibility of fans congregating outside grounds with matches taking place inside — with Liverpool’s imminent coronation as champions an obvious potential fan magnet event.

FA chiefs, aware of the financial impact on smaller clubs who are more reliant on gate income, will look at the possibility of solidarity payments to help them cope with the cash shortfall.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin led the brief debate on the issue during yesterday’s meeting of the ruling executive council, which one insider said lasted just “two minutes” during the two-hour meeting.

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Ceferin said: “Everybody stay calm. We must be guided by the authorities and our respective governments.”

UEFA has big decisions to make with the last-16 stages of both the Champions League and Europa League being held next week and the Euro 2020 play-offs involving Scotland, Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland scheduled for the final week of the month.

The FA currently has no plans to call off the Euro 2020 warm-ups with Italy and Denmark at Wembley later this month, while the fate of Euro 2020 is not even a discussion at this stage.

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This article first appeared on The Sun and was reproduced with permission

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