Millwall boss Gary Rowett on new training date, proposal for Premier League club’s to quarantine players + why non-league decision was premature

BY RICHARD CAWLEY

Gary Rowett has discussed Millwall pushing their return to training back until April 14 – and admits even that looks unlikely to be when they reconvene at their Calmont Road training bases.

The Lions had been due to be back on April 3 but the government’s guidelines to not leave home unless it is essential – due to the coronavirus pandemic – has changed the schedule.

And Millwall manager Rowett is realistic that the middle of next month also looks doubtful for football clubs to resume training again.

He said: “The initial directive was ‘we suggest you don’t return to training until April 3’, which seemed to be a little bit vague. There wasn’t a definitive ‘you must not train’. I suppose it’s a little bit difficult legally for the EFL to say that. I think most clubs adhered to that.

“Then, of course, there is a three-week lockdown and most people presumed, rightly so, that would mean the players also extend that return to training which is now April 14. We got an email from the EFL that said they didn’t expect anyone to return until then.

“We’re back on April 14 and supposedly starting on April 30 but, of course, again we all know the likelihood is that this lockdown will go longer. Not least because of some peoples’ actions within it that are going to extend it. And we’re sat at home, like everyone else, waiting to hear what the plan might be.

“That’s difficult for anybody – including the EFL, FA and the Premier League – to make that plan until things hopefully get better in terms of the pandemic.”

There has been talk of the Premier League having quarantined World Cup-style bases and playing all the games in the Midlands in June and July.

“About two or three weeks ago someone mentioned to me they were talking about maybe a tournament-style league but I’m not sure how that would work at this moment,” said Rowett.

“I don’t think anyone out there would want to be taken away from their families for maybe six weeks. What if one of your family gets ill? What if one of your kids gets ill? How would that sit? I don’t know. I’m not saying I disagree with any of these ideas, but they are difficult ones to understand.

“The first one I felt was strange was the decision to stop a lot of the non-league – to void those seasons. I’m sure the league had a good reason for doing it but we’re in a pyramid system where most lower league clubs are aspiring to climb the leagues – like any others – and it just felt strange that no decision has been made anywhere yet, so why make a decision so quickly on those divisions? I felt a bit for some of those teams.

“The only sensible answer at the moment is that no decision can be made until the numbers start to drop and things start to improve. I can’t see a way we can start or finish the season safely until that happens.

“I think it will rumble on for two or three weeks before we start to get any answers.

“It’s difficult for all people in football, you almost don’t want to talk about football because it feels selfish and it feels inappropriate but ultimately that’s the job we’re in and we still need to talk about it and think about it.”


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