Brighton chief executive Paul Barber says clubs are going to
have to adapt to the concept of playing behind closed doors.
With Chief Medical Officer Chris Witty suggesting on
Wednesday that some social distancing measures could remain in place for the
rest of 2020 as the country tries to get to grips with coronavirus, the
prospect of playing football matches in front of a crowd diminished further.
It is widely accepted that if the current Premier League
season is to be completed it will be behind closed doors, though there are
increasing hurdles to overcome for that to happen, with regards to player
testing and TV rights.
Hopes of starting next season in front of a crowd are
fading, which could have severe consequences for clubs up and down the country.
Barber said: "It's going to be very difficult to play
Premier League football behind closed doors.
"It's going to be very difficult for football clubs
right the way through the pyramid to not have the benefit of the matchday
income that we all rely on. And the lower down the pyramid you go, where the
broadcast income is less significant, the matchday income, by definition, is
"So, I must admit it concerns me hugely for football as
a whole, for the industry as a whole. I think that it will put many clubs in a
very, very difficult financial position.
"But it's something, by the sounds of it, we are going to
have to find a way of adapting to, not just commercially but also from a
sporting point of view as well.
"The players are going to have to get used to it. But,
again, every week that goes by, every month that goes by, we get more
information and we process that information, we start to adapt to the new
environment that we're facing, and I daresay that, once again, we will process
this information and start to think about our plans and how we adapt to
For football to resume even behind closed doors it is going
to take the players to be regularly tested and train and play in a controlled
With some NHS frontline staff and key workers still unable
to get tested that seems a long way off and Seagulls boss, Graham Potter says
footballers should be down the list.
"People are looking at what's happening in other
countries and thinking that it can just be transferred across to here," he
"We're in a situation far behind other countries when
it comes to testing. So, I think footballers and the footballers that I know
wouldn't be comfortable if they're getting tested and key workers, frontline
people in the NHS, aren't getting adequate testing.
"But, of course, if we get to the point where we can
test the nation, we can test people that need it more so than footballers and
we get to that point then I'm sure footballers will be happy with that.
"But not until it's the right thing to do for the
country and the overall health of the country."
If play can get going behind closed doors, it will present
the opportunity for the live sport to return to television and there have been
calls for some matches to appear on free-to-air channels so more people can
- TEAMtalk media