It’s happening already in Italy and it appears the Premier League are not far behind.
With the Novel Corona virus epidemic still spreading throughout the world. sports stadiums are among the most affected as governments are attempting to curb social gatherings where the virus can spread like wildfire. The Serie A is already under a ruling that will see all games being played behind closed doors for a whole month, and speaking to a FT Business of Football Summit in London, Everton’s Chief Financial Office Sasha Ryazantsev thinks it’s only a matter of weeks before we see the same in England.
So far, the Premier League, English Football League and the Football Association have all stated that they will only make their decision depending on what the Government regulates with no suspensions on major gatherings as of right now.
However, the Daily Telegraph are reporting that the Premier League has warned clubs that closed-doors games might be coming soon and mainstream media will be briefed on Friday (tomorrow). Journalists and broadcasters will continue as normal as the league will not meddle with multi-billion pound television rights obligations.
Ryazantsev became the first executive from one of the top clubs to speak out in public about the issue -
“It would be a forced decision rather than one we would proactively engage in. But the whole situation goes far beyond the world of sport. Of course nobody wants to play behind closed doors and I don’t think it’s inevitable at the moment that it will happen. But we feel it is quite likely it may happen in the coming weeks.”
So far there has been no comment on what would happen should a player catch the virus, as the close proximity they share with the rest of the squad could also cause a quick spread of the illness. People who have traveled to some of the outbreak areas of China, South Korea, Iran and Italy are being asked to stay quarantined for two weeks to ensure they are not showing signs of the epidemic.
Numerous exhibitions, conferences, events and other congregations that require international travel have already been called off with this summer’s 2020 Olympics to be held in Tokyo also under threat.
COVID-19 as of today has afflicted 95,000 people worldwide with a mortality rate of 3.4%, and the outbreak declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern by the World Health Organization (WHO) on 30 January 2020.