Crystal Palace chairman Steve Parish has argued the return
of Premier League football could boost the mental health of the nation and help
define the "new normal" for other industries.
Parish defended attempts to get the season back up and
running amid the coronavirus pandemic, stressing not doing so would be a major
financial blow to taxpayers and the wider football community.
The Premier League met on Friday to discuss 'Project
Restart' with clubs committed to finishing the season when some social
restrictions are relaxed. It is understood the league is still working towards
a best-case scenario of play being able to resume from the week beginning 8 June.
Parish wrote in his column in The Sunday Times that he would
respect if the nation decided that it was inappropriate for football to return,
but he argued that it would help no-one if football or any industry "come
out the other side in a worse state than we otherwise could have".
Parish said: "Football cannot occupy any paramedic or
ambulance that the NHS needs. We must do our best not to create a public-order
issue with supporters attempting to get close to grounds. Perhaps most
importantly, we cannot take testing capacity from one person in greater
But he added: "I believe that just as Formula One is
often the precursor to developments that become standard in general road
vehicles, so Premier League football with its physical science, medical infrastructures
and resources for looking after its people, can begin to define how the 'new
normal' might look for a lot of working environments.
"Not only that, in our country and beyond, people need
to find ways to move forward mentally, to experience some small relief from the
worries of this crisis. In my view, a story here and a conversation there about
the game last night will not trivialise loss or suffering but offer a tiny
respite from it for many people. Football is meaningless - but it is magnificently
meaningless. It has the power to lighten lives; why not see if we can use that
- TEAMtalk media