‘Lawyers are going to be busy’ - City rival on restarting, playing behind closed doors and contractual issues

PUBLISHED: 15:47 13 April 2020 | UPDATED: 15:47 13 April 2020

Norwich City's Carrow Road stadium has not hosted football since the end of February due to the coronavirus shutdown Picture: Bradley Collyer/PA Wire

Norwich City's Carrow Road stadium has not hosted football since the end of February due to the coronavirus shutdown Picture: Bradley Collyer/PA Wire

PA Wire

Brighton chief executive and deputy chairman Paul Barber insists the Premier League is a long way from agreeing to restart behind closed doors.

Norwich City and the rest of the top flight clubs are scheduled to have further discussions later this week aimed at putting plans in place for when it is safe to resume professional football, as society tries to deal with the global pandemic.

But Barber feels the current death toll in the UK means any talk of a resumption of the season and what form that could potentially take is purely hypothetical.

“It’s hard to say, but when I hear a death rate of 900 people a day and rising football seems a very, very long way away,” said Barber, quoted on Brighton’s official site.

“If it is a means getting the season done and it is safe to do so then clearly we’ve got to look at playing behind closed doors. My concern is it is not the product that Sky are used to, the fans are used to or the players are used to. But whatever happens we have to look at that scenario only when it is safe.

“I think lawyers are going to be busy because almost every contract in every part of the game right the way from regulations to player and sponsor contracts - things that we in the football industry take for granted – finish on June 30.

“They are almost certainly going to have kind of re-write them to take into account an eventuality like this one. The FA are making provisions for some levels of football to simply curtail their seasons now but other levels of football want to keep their options open to continue even if it goes beyond June 30 so it is a really, really complex scenario.

“Then you add that on top of European leagues, international leagues, the international calendar and the tournament (Euro 2020) that has been postponed until next summer, it is not an easy situation to navigate through.”

Brighton’s players are not scheduled to return to the club until May 1. City keeper and former Seagulls’ back up Tim Krul was quoted in the Dutch media last week outlining a possible return to team training for the Canaries on May 14.

ESPN claim on Monday that English Football League chiefs would like to resume the season by the start of June, but any such plan will depend on the government guidance and the extent of the lockdown measures in place in the coming weeks.

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