Premier League

Coronavirus: PFA chief reveals matches may be shortened when Premier League returns

Gordon Taylor of the Professional Footballers Association admitted that games may need to be shortened so the 2019/20 season can be completed.

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Coronavirus: PFA chief reveals matches may be shortened when Premier League returns
CHRIS J RATCLIFFE AFP

Football’s governing bodies are currently considering making major changes to the format of the game to help ensure the 2019/20 season can resume as quickly and as safely possible. With clubs braced to suffer major losses if the current campaign cannot be completed, PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor spoke on BBC Radio Four about the measures currently being considered.

There is a protocol being put together that is going to be presented, involving all medical experts and Government medical experts”, Taylor said.

There will be a meeting of the shareholders of the Premier League on Friday and then shortly after that the document of returning to work should be finalised and then in the following week, next week, as early as possible, that will be put to players and coaches”.

When pressed on the details Taylor made clear that nothing had been agreed yet but made a startling admission about some big changes that were being considered:

“We don’t know the future. What we do know is what propositions have been put, what ideas have been put, the possibility of having more substitutes, games possibly not being the full 45 minutes each way.

There’s talks of neutral stadiums. There’s been lots of things being put forward.”

Fitness concerns surround the Premier League’s return

The suggestion that matches may be shortened when the season can resume will shock many fans, but hints at the logistical headache that this unprecedented suspension of play has given league officials. Preseason training usually begins at the start of July, giving players around five weeks to build up their fitness.

Without the time for a full pre-season players could be put at greater risk of injury when the Premier League can resume. To help compensate for the lack of a full pre-season and likely high frequency of games, FIFA has proposed to allow teams to make five substitutions to ease the workload.

Sammy Margo, the first female physiotherapist to work in English men’s football, told the PA news agency that such adjustments will be needed to help players get back up to speed:

The only way to get fit for football is to play football. You can’t get good and strong for football just by being in the gym and just doing, let’s say, leg presses. You can get strong but not strong for football.

“It’s very, very personal and specific but a physio knows the players very well, they know their normal predictors and I think this five substitutes idea is not going to be a bad thing because it will help the players.”