Ian Wright defends Premier League over restart plans and asks why football is being used as a ‘punching bag’?

Plans to resume the Premier League when it is safe to do so are being discussed in great detail, yet football officials have been targeted for doing so while people are still dying from the coronavirus pandemic

Jack de Menezes
Sports News Correspondent
Sunday 19 April 2020 13:30
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Coronavirus: How has sport been affected?

Former Arsenal and England striker Ian Wright has questioned why football is being used as a “punching bag” during the coronavirus pandemic following talks between officials about how to restart the season.

Numerous meetings have taken place at various levels of the football pyramid, with Fifa, Uefa, the Premier League, English Football League and Professional Footballers’ Association all set to have a pivotal say in how professional sport resumes.

The most recent of which saw the 20 Premier League clubs last Friday give their commitment to completing the 2019/20 season, while the EFL is ready to renew matches behind closed doors when it is safe to do so, with a plan being put in place to live stream all games across the Championship, League One and Two.

Both the Premier League and EFL have stressed that the priority remains getting back to football only when it is safe to do so, with government guidelines dictating when the coronavirus lockdown will end and sporting events can resume.

Yet football has come in for plenty of criticism for discussing plans to return to action, and current Match of the Day pundit Wright believes it is an unfair stick to beat the sport with given every other affected business is locked in discussions about trying to return to normal life as soon as it is safe to do so.

“It seems like football is the punching bag,” Wright told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“Lives come before anything, and the Premier League have always said, and they continue to say, (football will resume) when it’s safe to do so.

“When you hear people having a go at football because the Premier League are having meetings ... they have to have meetings because at some stage things have to start again.

“Just because football is a game ... it’s still a business, just like other businesses are making plans to try and get themselves going again.”

It has been claimed that the Premier League has pencilled in a potential return date of 8 June, with players set to return to training from mid-May providing the lockdown restrictions are eased by the government on 7 May when they will next review the situation regarding the coronavirus pandemic.

Officials at the Premier League have denied such dates have been agreed, but a series of plans were discussed last Friday to set up a number of solutions depending on when they get the green light to resume football games – which will almost certainly be kept behind closed doors.

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