Barber: Football still seems a very long way away

Chief executive Paul Barber says the Premier League are having to give serious thought to finishing the season by playing games behind closed doors, but that is still some way off as the daily death toll from the crisis continues to rise in the UK.

By Bruce Talbot • 12 April 2020

By Paul Hazlewood
Chief Executive and Deputy Chairman Paul Barber.

The League and its 20 member clubs are discussing various scenarios to complete the campaign, but Albion’s players will not return to the club until 1st May and there is no timescale yet for a return to training, never mind a resumption in the season.  

“It’s hard to say, but when I hear a death rate of 900 people a day and rising football seems a very, very long way away,” said Barber.

“If it is a means getting the season done and it is safe to do so then clearly we’ve got to look at playing behind closed doors. My concern is it is not the product that Sky are used to, the fans are used to or the players are used to. But whatever happens we have to look at that scenario only when it is safe.”

There are added complications with player contracts due to expire on 30th June.

Barber added: “I think lawyers are going to be busy because almost every contract in every part of the game right the way from regulations to player and sponsor contracts - things that we in the football industry take for granted – finish on 30th June.

“They are almost certainly going to have kind of re-write them to take into account an eventuality like this one. The FA are making provisions for some levels of football to simply curtail their seasons now but other levels of football want to keep their options open to continue even if it goes beyond 30th June so it is a really, really complex scenario.

“Then you add that on top of European leagues, international leagues, the international calendar and the tournament [Euro 2020] that has been postponed until next summer, it is not an easy situation to navigate through.”