The boss of the Premier League has said football is in “rescue mode” after restarting earlier this month.
Chief executive Richard Masters said: “There is so much uncertainty. At the moment we’re in rescue mode, we’re trying to finish the season… Then we’ll turn our mind to next season”.
Masters, who was appointed to run the Premier League in December, faced questions from the DCMS Committee on the restart of football this morning. He pointed to threats of a second wave and the overriding economic conditions leading to further uncertainty for football.
The Premier League restarted on 17 June after a break of 100 days due to the pandemic. Clubs agreed on a set of regulations on player health and safety before returning to the game. Matches have been played without spectators in the stadiums, but Masters said the safe return of fans was “looming large” on the agenda.
When quizzed on the return of spectators by MPs, Masters said football is willing to “act as a guinea pig” since it is the most important part of the game’s return.
He caveated that the ultimate decision is up to the government and the return could only happen when “safe and appropriate to allow fans back into the stadiums”.
How the next season starts is also another issue the Premier League faces. The 2019/2020 season is finishing late, and arrangements for European games have only recently been finalised. This means a “congested fixture calendar [risks] becoming even more truncated,” said Masters.
“Covid may be used as a means to address some of the issues that exist in parts of football, but wider structures in terms of competitions and relationships between leagues is for a future date,” Masters told MPs.
“There is a challenge for all of us to come together and find a solution to be able to play out the competitions in the way they were originally envisaged… It’s not easy because there is less time and space,” the league’s chief added.
More to follow