Wilder backs Premier League delay amid coronavirus pandemic

Date published: Thursday 12th March 2020 1:01

"If there are no punters in the stadium, it would be a huge, huge blow."

Chris Wilder Sheffield United

Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder would prefer the football season to be delayed for a period as a result of the coronavirus, rather than have matches played behind closed doors.

The government is thought to be close to advising the football authorities in England that a ban on fans attending matches should be introduced in attempts to delay and contain the spread of the virus.

Denmark, Italy, Spain and Switzerland have already taken the decision to suspend football, while games have been played in empty stadiums across Europe this week.

A decision has yet to be made in England but the Football Association are expected to follow suit and Wilder thinks it would be disappointing if matches went ahead without any supporters in attendance.

“I would (prefer a delay). The game is nothing without supporters,” he said ahead of his side’s Premier League fixture against Newcastle at St James’ Park on Saturday.

“Of course, there are different parts of the game, officials, administrators, players. The biggest reason is to play in front of supporters – the buzz and excitement they bring to the game.

“We have sold out home and away throughout the season and we will do leading up to the last Premier League game. A delay, an extension would be my preferred option. But if it is behind closed doors we’ll have to accept that.

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“Of course, the human aspect and people’s health comes above anything and is the priority but thinking about it from a commercial point of view, the impact is going to be huge. It’s something I can’t get my head around.

“From a sponsorship and from a spectators’ point of view who come through the door and buy a programme, buy a pie, the ramifications are going to be felt at all levels of football.

“Obviously, we would have to accept it and we would accept what the experts have to say who are trying to control it. But we’ve all been looking forward to going to Newcastle on Saturday – such a brilliant club to watch, the atmosphere of having 50,000 Geordies breathing down your neck.

“If there are no punters in the stadium, it would be a huge, huge blow. But I think it’s coming, I wouldn’t be surprised.”


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