‘Season should finish, but this only football’ – Former Stoke City boss



Former Stoke City manager Lou Macari says the current season should be finished rather than scrapped – whenever it is safe to play football again.

The EFL has written to clubs to say they are still hopeful of completing the campaign this summer, with games played behind closed doors, although that will depend on government advice as the nation deals with the coronavirus crisis.

Macari says the health of the public and players must come before re-starting the football season. But he says once it has been deemed safe for football to return, then the final games of this campaign should be played out even if that means delaying the 2020/21 season.

He believes football is most likely to return with behind-closed-doors games, so long as that is considered safe.

Lou first suggested the possibility of playing matches behind closed doors in his Sentinel column. A month on, he believes that is the most likely scenario.

He explained: “I can only see the return of football being behind closed doors.

“This season has to finish before another progresses. But let’s not forget this is only football. There are people dying and you can’t put the desire for people to watch football before everything else. Everyone is being very wary about where they go, what they do, who they meet and the numbers.

“You can’t go from not meeting people, and being advised to stay at home, to all of a sudden the doors are open and everyone is travelling everywhere. I can’t see it happening and don’t think there is any need for it to happen.

“I do think they need to get the season over with champions and people getting relegated as normally happens.

“But I can’t see any possibility that, all a sudden you are paying your ticket and travelling 300 miles to go and watch your team. I think everyone is going to be cautious about everything and, as a result, I can only see it being behind closed doors for the remainder of the season.”

The EFL has told its clubs not to call their players back in for training until May 16 at the earliest. Reports suggest the league would like to start behind-closed-doors games in June, but that and any plans for a return for training will all depend on government advice.

One step below the Football League, the National League has asked its clubs to vote to cancel the remaining fixtures for the regular season. If that passes then clubs will be asked to vote on how to decide teams’ final positions.

Stoke City and Port Vale both have nine games of the regular season still to play, in the Championship and League Two respectively.

Stoke are three points clear of the relegation zone and up to 17th having started to pull clear under Michael O’Neill following his appointment in November.

Port Vale are eighth, just one point outside the play-off places under John Askey who, like O’Neill across the city, has started to turn the club around.

Vale were relegation contenders when he took over in February 2019 but were competing for a first appearance in the play offs since 1993 when the season was suspended.





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