Why every option is in play for Webber in City’s end game

PUBLISHED: 13:33 28 March 2020 | UPDATED: 13:33 28 March 2020

Norwich City have not played since the Premier League defeat at Sheffield United on March 7 Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Norwich City have not played since the Premier League defeat at Sheffield United on March 7 Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

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Stuart Webber insists Norwich City remain committed to finishing the season – but accepts that could mean playing behind-closed-doors.

The football authorities’ current position is a shutdown remains in place until the end of next month, with the Premier League, EFL and PFA releasing a statement on Friday pledging to work together ‘to mitigate the economic impact’ ahead of futher talks next week on a plan of action.

City’s sporting director believes now is not the time for rash decisions, while backing proper contingency planning.

“The first objective has to be to finish the league. We sit here in March and that is the sensible action,” he said. “It would be too early to be making rash decisions.

“But we have to be realistic and that means thinking about plans and ways to get around this if we can’t finish the season.

Norwich City sporting director Stuart Webber feels every option must be explored for how top flight football responds to the coronavirus shutdown Picture: Denise BradleyNorwich City sporting director Stuart Webber feels every option must be explored for how top flight football responds to the coronavirus shutdown Picture: Denise Bradley

“There are people a lot cleverer than myself trying to work out the permutations if that is not possible.

“At this stage we all have to work to try and finish it but also have an understanding these athletes need time to prepare and if we are to finish then are we looking at a lot of games in a short period of time.

“These players are not machines, we can’t just chuck them in and say go and perform without serious risk of injury. We have to respect the players.”

Webber, speaking on Guillem Balague’s latest episode of his Pure Football podcast, is adamant no-one wants games in empty stadiums.

“It would be a real shame,” he said. “If we are told we have to then we have to but I don’t think any player or member of staff wants the thought of playing behind closed doors. It is horrible.

“Whenever I have spoken about this recently to our players the first response is, ‘But we play football for the people. If not, why are we doing it?’

“Two billion can watch on television but it would be interesting how long they would watch with no supporters, no atmosphere, no passion inside the stadium. I have been to a couple of European games where supporters have been banned and it does feel different.

“Certainly at the moment, the 20 clubs and the Premier League are working on how we can get football back for the people.

“It is times like this people, as in supporters, realise how important football is from a social aspect.

“But it is one thing saying that and another to expect players or staff to put themselves in situations where they are not safe, and we can’t do that for the sake of trying to finish a league or make sure certain monies come in. Health is more important.”

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