COPA DEL REY FINAL | GARITANO

Athletic’s Garitano says Copa final without fans "unthinkable"

“We have to take things day by day, but knowing that the players need to be ready when the time comes to return to competition", Athletic Club’s coach said.

Athletic’s Garitano says Copa final without fans "unthinkable"
AIOL DIARIO AS

Athletic Club coach Gaizka Garitano says he fully understands the exceptional situation that Spain is experiencing due to the coronavirus crisis which has effected the squad’s day-to-day routine in Lezama: "We’ve never been through anything like this, we’ve been forced to adapt our own activities to what society is demanding of us at this time, people’s health is the most important thing. We have been training every day and preparing for when the matches start again. Every day we are receiving more information and we are trying to comply with what we are being told to do," Garitano explained.

'Copa del Rey final needs fans'

Like everyone in Spain, Athletic have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic: "We are constantly making changes to our planning arrangements. We had one set of plans drawn up and had to change it and draw up a new one – based on the fact that we might not be playing competitively for the next three weeks, but suddenly find ourselves with a match to play," the Athletic coach added. "We will have a new plan for the next three weeks and we are waiting on further information to see if the decide to suspend games will continue for longer than planned. We have to take things day by day, but knowing that the players need to be ready when competition resumes".

Things have started looking up for Athletic after the recent league wins against Villarreal and Valladolid – they currently sit 10th on 37 points: "We’ve had two good results in the league and booked our place in the Copa del Rey final. It’s a shame that we have to stop playing when we’ve just got into our rhythm but we fully understand why the measures have been taken and we respect it. Looking at it on the bright side, after a long time playing every Wednesday and Sunday, I’m sure some players will welcome the rest. It will give them time to recharge their batteries and face the final stage of LaLiga with more energy".

Priorities | Athletic Bilbao manager Gaizka Garitano speaking to the press.

However, Athletic are quite clear on their stance about holding games behind closed doors – especially what would have been their next game, at home to Atlético Madrid or the Copa del Rey final against Basque rivals Real Sociedad - both of which have been suspended: "Athletic is all about our fans, our people, so playing at an empty San Mamés would make no sense – no one would see the game - and the same goes for the Copa del Rey final. If our team reaches a final, it’s thinkable that our fans wouldn’t be there," Garitano concluded, while asking the public to be sensible and patient: "I’d like to ask the fans to wait a little while until we’re told what to do next. In the meantime, we’ll continue training. Let’s hope it all passes over – health comes first and hopefully we’ll all be able to get back to our normal lives and jobs ".