COVID-19: LMA boss says ‘all players must be tested’ before football season restart

The chief executive of the League Managers’ Association (LMA) Richard Bevan says that ‘English football should not restart until all players have been tested’.

Bevan also said that ‘tests must be made available’ to NHS staff, front-line workers and patients first.

“Once that’s happened, by all means let’s access it in sport,” he added.

English football has been suspended indefinitely with no real timescale for a return. All leagues have expressed a desire to get the season finished, but it will no doubt be tough to get it done.

This week, the EFL proposed a scenario to the clubs wherein they can get the season finished in just 56 days, but Bevan says it would be ‘incredibly tight’ and criticised the EFL’s handling of the proposal.

 “You’re going to have to get the support of the coaches and managers,” said Bevan. “You do not do that by not talking to them. You do not get the end-product or working together if you just send a letter out without actually taking their advice or thoughts.”

Bevan says that before the season can restart, the leagues should discuss any potential timescale with managers.

“You’re going to have to get the goodwill of the players because you’re going to have at least three weeks of training to get back on the pitch at least,” he said.

“The most important thing guiding every principle is health, and getting back on the pitch without ensuring fully-fit players is a very big call to make. I would like to see more debate.”

The LMA boss went on to talk about what comes next, saying that he thinks getting back on the pitch as soon as possible is key – using the German league as an example.

He said: “We’re not really going to see more accurate forecasting about when we can get on the pitch until the end of April.

“In Germany, if you look at discussions about coming back in May, that’s probably a direct result of some very clear thinking from their government because they’re doing 50,000 tests a day.

“In this country we’re doing 10,000 per day, although the government are targeting 100,000 each day by the end of the month.

“Our managers do not want to be back on the pitch unless the players have been tested. But at the same time the government must confirm that is OK, because the tests must be made available first – if there’s a shortage – to care workers, patients, NHS staff and their families.”

LMA Boss Bevan has his say on Premier League teams using furlough scheme

A number of Premier League clubs have used the governments job retention scheme and placed their non-playing staff on furlough leave in order to save some money during this crisis.

Due to the sheer financial weight of the 20 teams in the Premier League, each of the clubs have been heavily criticised for making use of this scheme, which was initially intended to keep smaller businesses from going out of business.

Last week, even Liverpool announced they were to use the scheme but after a significant backlash from their fans, they reversed that decision.

LMA chief-exec Bevan says the government should clarify that the scheme is ‘only for those who really need it’.

“Maybe the learning for the government is that when the furlough period comes to an end and they need to reset it for June, I would welcome them saying furloughing is only really focused on the people that really need it,” said Bevan.

“Maybe we should be seeing the clubs in League 1 and League 2 that need the furloughing. I’d like to see the government setting better guidelines so that the wrong businesses don’t take away the money from where we need it to be.”

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Kieran Harm
Kieran hails from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne and holds a degree in Sports Journalism from the University of Brighton. He covers a range of sports, specialising in football and NFL. Kieran is a long-suffering member of the Toon Army as well as a very proud member of Broncos Country.

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