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EPL should be played behind closed doors when safe, says Southampton chief exec

The English Premier League should be closed behind closed doors, believes Southampton chief executive Martin Semmens. 

Last week, the league was further postponed, with the clubs agreeing that football will not resume before April 30 amid the coronavirus pandemic. However, many believe that this is still an optimistic estimation and do not believe that it will be safe to stage mass public events for many weeks and even months.

With the 2019-20 season still to be decided and the 2020-21 season scheduled to start in August, there will be a major fixture pile-up. And this is not even considering the legal ramifications in the league’s broadcast contracts with Sky Sports and BT Sport that entails fines of up to £750 million should the league not be wrapped up by July 31.

With all of this in mind, Semmens told the BBC that the Premier League should get back to playing behind closed doors as soon as it is safe. He said: “We have to do what is right and safe for the general public. When everybody is safe and we’re not using up NHS and police resources, the government would like us to get back to playing because we are entertainment and a sign that the country is coming back to normal.

“If people are home for another month and Premier League football is on the TV every day that can only be a good thing. Not because we are more essential than the NHS but because we can give people entertainment and show that we’re fighting back.”

There are also challenges facing clubs in terms of player contracts, many of which will expire in June. Semmens noted that “iIf we ended up playing until July 15 and you had to extend a player’s contract by two weeks, convincing a player to play two more weeks of football and get paid nicely to do it – I don’t believe that will be a substantial challenge.

“The challenge is making sure we don’t have a knock-on effect to other seasons and make football compromised for years to come.”