A “growing number” of Premier League players are reportedly hesitant about resuming the 2019-20 season amid the coronavirus pandemic.
ESPN’s Alex Shaw reported Wednesday that players have expressed “severe reservations” ahead of a meeting between the league’s clubs Friday to discuss options to finish the term.
“A lot of players are very uncomfortable with coming back,” a source from a Premier League club told Shaw. “The only way the league takes this seriously is when someone at a club dies. We will look back on this time with sadness in the future.”
The Premier League launched “Project Restart” as three clubs—Arsenal, Brighton and West Ham—reopened their training grounds Monday to begin preparations for the resumption of play.
“I personally have been in talks with the Premier League with a view to getting football up and running as soon as possible in order to support the whole football community,” UK culture secretary Oliver Dowden told reporters. “But, of course, any such moves would have to be consistent with public health guidance.”
Players have expressed concern about playing matches while social-distancing guidelines otherwise remain active in the country, however, and there’s been particular pushback from those with young family members or pregnant wives, per Shaw.
The ESPN report noted any talk of a player strike if the season is resumed is “premature,” though.
Premier League matches have been suspended since March 13 because of COVID-19.
The Dutch Eredivisie became the first major European league to cancel the remainder of its 2019-20 season Friday, stating no champion would be crowned with no promotion or relegation from the top division.
French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced Tuesday all major sporting events in the country would be on hold until at least September, effectively ending the football seasons. Ligue 1 is considering three options on how to present the final table.