Coronavirus: Barcelona coach Quique Setien labels La Liga restart plans ‘unworkable’

Setien has cast doubt on whether the season can be completed at all

Coronavirus: How has sport been affected?

Barcelona coach Quique Setien is pessimistic that the Spanish top-flight season will be able to be completed and has called La Liga‘s conditions for the campaign recommencing “a non-starter” due to the continued threat of the novel coronavirus.

La Liga has been on hold since 10 March although president Javier Tebas said last week that the league could start up again on either 29 May, 7 June or 28 June, adding that the games were likely to be held without spectators.

Tebas has said Spanish clubs would lose a total of €1bn in television revenue, ticket sales and prize money if the remaining 11 matches cannot be played. But Setien, whose Barca side held a two-point lead over Real Madrid at the top of the standings when the campaign was indefinitely postponed, does not think it is so simple.

“Everyone wants to be ready for when the season starts again but that cannot happen until the health authorities can guarantee that there will be no problems,” Setien told Catalan radio station RAC1 on Thursday. “I have read the protocol and the reality is I don’t know if it can be carried out as it is written, I think it’s unworkable, I think it’s very difficult logistically.”

La Liga declined to comment on Setien’s remarks or give details of the protocol although a source close to the matter said stakeholders were discussing a plan to return to playing matches along with the association of European leagues.

“The objective of La Liga is to create a protocol of the highest possible standard that can allow return to training and get us in a good, healthy, way to the light at the end of this dark tunnel,” added the source.

Barca midfielder Sergio Busquets said he had been told that teams may have to remain in isolated camps until the season is completed.

“We can start training again little by little but it will be difficult once everyone comes together and the competition starts again and teams start travelling,” he told Spanish radio stations Onda Cero and Cadena Cope.

“I have heard that La Liga wants teams to concentrate for a few months, I think that’s too much and it cannot be done. There will be too many problems.”

More than 19,000 people have died from the coronavirus in Spain although this week the government loosened the terms of a strict lockdown to allow some businesses back to work.

Reuters

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