Football League confirm games to go ahead
12 Mar 2020 08:54 pm, by YorkshireSquare
Despite reports from The Times late on Wednesday that football in England was set to be played behind closed doors the Football League have tonight announced that games will go ahead as planned this weekend. On Thursday Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the UK will move to the delay phase of its plan to tackle the virus and whilst the government is considering banning sporting fixtures amid the coronavirus outbreak, it will not happen immediately. Following the Prime Minister’s speech on Thursday the Football League released a statement confirming games will continue to go ahead as planned…
In light of today’s announcement by the UK Government, EFL matches will continue to take place as normal while the guidance from the relevant authorities remains that there is no medical rationale to close or cancel sporting events at this time. The EFL, however, will continue to work with Government and relevant stakeholders to further develop contingency plans to ensure the League is best placed to act as and when any potential restrictions may come into force.
Immediately following the announcement by the Prime Minister, EFL Chair Rick Parry held discussions with the FA and Premier League and agreed on a consistent approach ahead of this weekend’s round of fixtures. Matters will be further discussed at a meeting called by European Football’s Governing body, UEFA, on Tuesday 17 March. The League will continue to liaise with the Government regarding ongoing developments and will continue to work with Clubs to ensure players, staff and supporters are updated and appraised accordingly. These matters are, of course, subject to change and we will update as appropriate.
Chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said cancelling sporting events is not a "major way to tackle this epidemic". Going into more detail he continued…
Of course there is a risk, but on average one person infects two or three others. You therefore have a very low probability of infecting a large number of people in a stadium, or a rather higher probability of infecting people very close to you, and that means most of the transmission tends to takes place with friends and colleagues in close environments, not in the big environments.
It is true that any cancellations of things can have some effect (but) if you then get a displacement activity, when everyone congregates somewhere else, you may have perversely an increased risk, particularly in an indoors environment. So it doesn't mean you should at some point make the decision for the resilience point that has been discussed, but this is not a major way to tackle this epidemic. The major ways are to try and reduce and delay the transmission across households and people who have become infected and that why that is the concentration of the first actions.
So whilst games access Europe are being played behind closed doors or postponed altogether Leeds are set to make their trip to South Wales on Saturday with the aim of consolidating their position at the top of the Championship. The main threat to the league as it stands seems to be individual players becoming infected causing teams to go into self-isolation rather than any widespread government policy to cancel sporting events. With Nottingham Forests owner already having been infected and coming into contact with the team this could be sooner rather than later.