• Crystal Palace chairman admits Premier League may not return in 2019-20

    Crystal Palace chairman Steve Parish has admitted that the Premier League may not return in 2019-20.

    All major leagues in Europe have been on hold since March due to the coronavirus pandemic. Some countries have already given up trying to salvage the current campaign, with Ligue 1 and the Eredivisie among those to cancel all remaining fixtures.

    However, Germany’s Bundesliga is due to restart on May 16, and Spanish officials are working on a resumption of La Liga in June.

    Premier League bosses are also hopeful of getting back underway next month, but Parish is not sure that such a scenario will be realistic given the number of positive Covid-19 cases still being reported on a daily basis in England.

    “We would be derelict in our duty if we didn’t find a way to try and bring the game back,” the Palace chief told the BBC.

    “It may prove beyond us.”

    Parish went on to discuss the flaws being seen in Germany’s plans to bring football back, with 10 Bundesliga players diagnosed with coronavirus in the last week after a wave of 1,724 tests.

    In the 2.Bundesliga, all players and staff from Dinamo Dresden have been forced into quarantine for two weeks after reporting two positive cases, and questions are now being asked over the logistics of next weekend’s proposed restart.

    “The German example could provide a blueprint for us and clearly we can see some of the early challenges,” said Parish.

    “They may prove insurmountable, but the concern for us is that if they prove insurmountable now then we may be in for a very, very extended period of not being able to play and that has huge ramifications for the game.”

    If the Premier League is cleared to recommence, all matches will likely be staged behind closed doors at neutral venues, but Watford, Brighton and Aston Villa have already opposed ‘Project Restart’.

    Parish acknowledges the downsides of removing home advantage for certain clubs, but can’t see any other way for games to go ahead given the limited number of resources available at present.

    “Deciding it competitively would be best, obviously if we can play in our own stadiums that would be preferable for everybody, but for the moment that situation is with government and the authorities and not with us,” he said.

    “The police have made it clear that they don’t think they can police every ground.

    “I have enormous sympathy with [Watford chief executive] Scott Duxbury’s position. Having said that, I think it may well prove to be the least worst option.

    “There are no easy answers, we have to work through it as a collective and I think we will come out with a consensus in the end.”

    Parish concluded by stressing the need for public health to be put above football, adding: “Football is entirely unimportant in the context of the public health crisis, that has to come first.

    “We will want assurances as clubs that we are not taking resources away from anyone. We simply can’t take tests away from anyone who is more needful than us.

    “We have been told so far that these are private facilities that are not being utilised for this particular public health crisis. We will all want more clarity on that, it is essential that that is the case.”

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