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‘God forbid we have a fatality’

Watford manager Nigel Pearson fires out a warning shot to football chiefs over proposed Premier League return.

Nigel Pearson is worried about football making an early return.
Nigel Pearson is worried about football making an early return.
Image: Nick Potts

NIGEL PEARSON, THE Watford manager, has urged football’s ruling body to think clearly before they give the green light for the Premier League to return.

In an interview today with The London Times, Pearson expressed the view that clubs should consider players’ health.

A key meeting is planned for Monday among the 20 Premier League clubs to decide when the remaining 92 matches should be played with a possibility remaining that clubs could return to training as early as next week.

If so, players will be tested for Covid-19 on a twice-weekly basis. Club managers want at least two weeks intense training before any match can be played. Pearson, however, is worried about the implications of a rushed decision.

“God forbid we have a fatality,” Pearson said to The Times. “People are closing their eyes to the threat.

“While we would like to restart it (the league), it’s got to be safe.

“We should be cautious. To ignore possibilities is foolhardy. It’s about safeguarding people’s health.

“The players, because they’re athletes, are probably a lower risk than a lot of people but there are still a lot of unanswered questions. The BAME question is something which has been spoken about an awful lot [following the Office of National Statistics revealing that black, Asian and minority ethnic people are more vulnerable to Covid-19]. There are players who have asthma, players with cardiac problems in the past. All our players are up to speed in terms of cardiac screening but there are unanswered questions in terms of how this virus may impact that.”

Pearson added: “If I’ve got my cynical head on I’m concerned our potential restart coincides with the relaxation of the lockdown rules. We have to try to believe advice that we’re being given [by government] that we’ve reached the peak but there’s still an incredible number of people losing their lives through this. The death toll in the UK is anything between 33,000 and 38,000. That’s filling our stadium and then filling it half again. It’s a sobering thought.”

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