‘We could have seized on this’ - Leeds chief determined to resume season
PUBLISHED: 09:40 22 May 2020 | UPDATED: 12:14 22 May 2020
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Leeds United’s chief executive insists the Yorkshire side have no intention of being ‘opportunist’ by pursuing promotion to the Premier League via a points per game format, as they are fully focused on completing their season on the pitch.
Angus Kinnear’s comments follow on from the EFL’s statement that the intention is for seasons to be completed if possible, alongside an announcement for regulations that clubs will vote on for how to settle a curtailed season.
These include promotion and relegation going ahead as planned, with a final table to be settled on unweighted points per game and with play-offs still being played - which clubs in the Championship, League One and League Two will vote on as divisions.
The announcement comes after Premier League representatives, including Norwich City sporting director Stuart Webber, had said that it would only be fair for teams to be relegated from the top flight after concluding their seasons if Championship clubs finished their campaigns to seal promotion as well.
Kinnear, who is currently writing his usual matchday programme notes for local newspaper the Yorkshire Evening Post said he had seen a “footballing glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel” in the past week.
He put this down to the return of football in Germany, the Premier League’s coronavirus testing of players and staff so far returning less than 1pc of positive tests and seeing top-flight clubs returning to training.
The Whites’ chief continued: “Simultaneously the EFL have formally reconfirmed that the overriding determination amongst the Championship clubs is to complete the season but, if this is impossible, the divisions will be determined on an unweighted points per game average with promotion and relegation adhered to at every level.
“If Leeds United wanted to be opportunist we could have seized on this ‘point per game’ commitment to push for an early curtailment in concert with some already very vocal self-interests.
“However, our intention has always been to do all we can to complete this season where we started it – on the pitch.
“Marcelo and the team are confident that they can continue their rich vein of form into the last nine games and believe that they have earned the right to have the chance to celebrate reaching their goal at Elland Road even though our supporters will only be there in spirit.
“The medical protocols we have been asked to adopt are rigorous, comprehensive, and founded on science. They have already been embraced by our players.”
Kinnear also explained that Covid-19 testing capacity had been offered to players’ family and that the Leeds players have had it explained to them how low the threat of the virus is to young, healthy people without underlying health conditions.
He also stated that “none of our players will be pressurised in to training or playing” as he discussed trying to make players as safe as possible ahead of a potential return to training for Championship clubs next week.
Norwich, Aston Villa and Bournemouth are the current Premier League bottom three, with Leeds and West Brom clear at the top of the Championship with nine games remaining prior to football’s suspension in March due to the pandemic.