Palace chairman Parish backs a safe return of Premier League as some clubs struggle

Premier League clubs are bleeding money and their finances would be entering “uncharted waters” if the season that was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic is not finished, Crystal Palace chairman Steve Parish has said.

Professional soccer has been suspended since mid-March due to the coronavirus outbreak which has killed more than 28,100 people in the United Kingdom, and the league is no closer to a return after a meeting with all 20 clubs on Friday.

The loss in revenue has forced some clubs to furlough their employees while others have agreed wage cuts with their players.

Parish says the proposals laid out for the restart would protect players, staff and officials – and the cash problems of many clubs should be a factor when making a decision to return.

He said: “We should all care about the money. I’ll tell you why. Nobody wins if the Premier League receives less money.

“We are already facing losses no one can quantify – and if we don’t finish the season we are entering uncharted waters.

“Football is one of the most efficient tax-generating industries in Britain… Overall we pay about 3.3 billion pounds in tax every year and it is the Premier League that largely funds the whole football pyramid.”

La Liga chief Javier Tebas claimed voiding the season would lead to collective losses of up to one billion euros and that football had to restart as it was an “economic engine”.

Parish agreed with Tebas and football needs to plan a return, even if it meant playing at neutral venues without fans.

“Football cannot return the same,” Parish said.

“As Tebas observed: if important economic sectors cannot restart, in a safe and controlled manner, they could end up disappearing. That could happen to professional football.

When Crystal Palace last played football, squeezing past Watford 1-0 on March 7, it was impossible to predict how words like “pandemic” and “coronavirus” would become so familiar to us all, and the terrible loss and sadness so many families would experience, in so short a time.

With little else in the news except the human and economic damage wrought by this disease, it can feel wrong to even contemplate taking steps back towards normality. But perhaps we should allow ourselves to do that.

“People need to find ways to move forward mentally, to experience some small relief from the worries of this crisis.

Football cannot occupy any paramedic or ambulance that the NHS needs. We must do our best not to create a public-order issue with supporters attempting to get close to grounds. Perhaps most importantly, we cannot take testing capacity from one person in greater need.

“I believe that just as Formula One is often the precursor to developments that become standard in general road vehicles, so Premier League football with its physical science, medical infrastructures and resources for looking after its people, can begin to define how the ‘new normal’ might look for a lot of working environments.

“Not only that, in our country and beyond, people need to find ways to move forward mentally, to experience some small relief from the worries of this crisis. Football is meaningless – but it is magnificently meaningless. It has the power to lighten lives; why not see if we can use that power again?”

Clubs were told on Friday limiting action to a small number of neutral stadiums was the only way it would be possible to complete the remaining matches of the 2019-20 season – to stop fans travelling to grounds.

“Some Premier League clubs are already warning they face crisis if they cannot get back to playing, and in the EFL many more may face extinction,” he said.




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