By Andrew McSteen and Toby Porter
Crystal Palace chairman Steve Parish fears next season might have to be played behind closed doors – but he does not think fans will like it.
The Selhurst Park supremo accepted on BBC Radio Four this morning, as his side face Bournemouth this evening, that some planning has to go into how to start next season.
The Eagles restart against Bournemouth in the first live top-flight game on the BBC since 1988. But already Parish is looking head to see how the Premier League can begin again after a summer break.
And he has thought hard about how to start 2020-21, again behind closed doors.
He said: “Personally, I think that’s the next thing we have to find a solution for. For example, if everybody in the stadium had been tested and was negative to the best of our capability, and I think there are advanced testing mechanisms that might enable us to do that, it might be one solution – it’s a bold, big approach.
“Having thrown our resources into getting the games on and finishing the season, we’ve now got to throw our resources behind getting supporters back because football without fans isn’t going to be a great experience for long.
“I think you need to accept probably that the situation we’re currently in will be the situation we’re in for the foreseeable future.
“Whilst we all hope the best; we hope for a vaccine, we hope for this thing to become less virulent, I think we need to accept that, quite possibly, we live in a world where these things aren’t the case. We just have to co-exist, so I think we’ve came to terms with that early. We’ve made a good plan and I think it’s one that lots of other industries are making now to try and get back up and running.”
He has watched some of the games already and added: ““It’s not exactly what any of us would want is it? Supporters are the lifeblood of the game and watching games with no supporter’s present isn’t the same thing.
“But I think – you saw from the viewing figures – it’s given everybody something else to focus on. It’s given people a little bit of a lift.
“We’re extremely excited to be the first game on the BBC from the Premier League ever so a big moment for us.
“We’ve got a great group of players, who I think have conducted themselves in absolutely an exemplary fashion throughout this whole period.
“We don’t feel completely safe [from relegation], number one – we’ve got some massive games coming up and we want to try and finish as high as we can. So we’re certainly not complacent and we will be doing our best in every game.”
Please make cheques payable to “MSI Media Limited” and send by post to South London Press, Unit 112, 160 Bromley Road, Catford, London SE6 2NZ
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has encouraged everyone in the country who can afford to do so to buy a newspaper, and told the Downing Street press briefing recently: “A free country needs a free press, and the newspapers of our country are under significant financial pressure”.
So if you have enjoyed reading this story, and if you can afford to do so, we would be so grateful if you can buy our newspaper or make a donation, which will allow us to continue to bring stories like this one to you both in print and online.