The Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) has revealed that most of its members accept the season may have to be completed behind closed doors, as they acknowledge there is now “no alternative”.
The possibility of playing games in empty stadiums is gathering momentum after initial reluctance from clubs and players.
As the coronavirus pandemic leads to growing restrictions across the country, most see there as being “no alternative” if the season is to be completed.
And PFA deputy Bobby Barnes – speaking for the first time since football was suspended – claims that although finishing the season behind closed doors is “not ideal”, the players are being “realistic”.
He told The Athletic: “I think it’s more a case of there being no alternative. Players are realistic. In an ideal world, we would be playing in front of crowds. But we’re not in an ideal world and certainly, the players I’ve spoken to accept that if that is what it’s going to be, that’s what it will have to be.
“I’ve been speaking to players — including two or three very high-profile Premier League players more or less on a daily basis — and the conversations I had with them at the outset were based around not wanting to play behind closed doors if at all possible.
“I said to them, ‘Look, none of us, in an ideal world, want to play in front of empty stadiums. Football is about fans. But the reality is that for the vast majority of the players, particularly at the highest level, their income is funded by television money and there are contracts that have to be adhered to. In order for us (the PFA) to be able to protect those players in terms of securing their salaries… if that’s the only offer we have on the table to complete the season, then that is what it will be.
“To be fair, most players very much took that on board when we spoke to them. The players get it. They understand the alternative. Quite frankly, if we’re going to get the season finished in a timely fashion so that we can even consider starting next season, we’ve got to be open to all options.
“If it means playing behind closed doors has to happen in order that contracts are protected, fixtures fulfilled and commercial deals honoured, then I think we’ve all got to come together and accept we’ve all got to make sacrifices to try and find a solution for the industry as a whole.”