‘Don’t see how it’s possible’ – Stoke City fans’ chief on finishing season



Stoke City Supporters Council chair Angela Smith is sceptical about plans to finish the football season behind closed doors.

The EFL hopes the 2019/20 season can be played out on the pitch, potentially this summer. That will depend on government advice about coronavirus, but the league say, if games can go ahead, they are expected to be without a crowd and broadcast to fans. 

Meanwhile, League Two clubs have a video conference today amid reports that some clubs would sooner cancel the rest of the season because of the financial cost of finishing behind closed doors.

Angela, doesn’t believe this season will finish. She is concerned about how games could be played safely, and also the possibility of supporters gathering outside grounds.

She added: “Everybody is going to want to finish the season but there comes a time where I just don’t think it is possible.

“If you want the season to finish, the players have to have a pre-season which has got to be a month, then they have to finish the matches which is probably going to be another six weeks. Then they will need a break before the next season starts. You will have to use the whole of your 25-man squad and have no injuries to even hope to start the next season within six weeks of finishing the last.

“I just don’t see how it is possible.

“Plus some players will be out of contract on June 30 and, by law, I don’t think you can make those players stay and play for you.”

Stoke City were 17th in the Championship when the season was suspended in March. They had begun to pull clear of the relegation zone under Michael O’Neill having been bottom of the table when he was appointed in November.

Meanwhile, Angela says fans will remember the efforts of Stoke City and Port Vale’s owners in the current crisis.

The Coates family have guaranteed jobs through the summer at both Stoke City and their bet365 business, and the Denise Coates Foundation has donated £10m to local hospitals.

Meanwhile, Vale owners Carol and Kevin Shanahan have combined resources from their businesses and charities to set up a community hub at Vale Park, providing food and care packages for the community.

Angela added: “I am very proud of this city. The Coates family have run the football club and made mistakes like everybody does. But financially without them Stoke would never have got to the Premier League and had ten brilliant years there. That is fantastic.

“The one thing I feel really proud of is the Denise Coates Foundation putting £10m into our local NHS. She hasn’t asked for publicity. Some people say she can afford it and say it’s like £100 to us, but I wonder how many of those people put £100 in the NHS themselves.

“As regards the Vale owners, they have come into the club and turned it around as regards the fans’ perceptions of the club.

“It is a difficult time for them because they are trying to improve the club and have no money coming in to help.

“But on top of that the Hubb Foundation, which they have created, is doing wonderful work.

“I think both our local football clubs deserve a huge amount of credit and it just shows to me how important football is to the fabric of our city.” 





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