English Premiership

Rio: We must follow government's lead

Rio Ferdinand (Getty Images)
Rio Ferdinand (Getty Images)

Former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand says the football world must respect any government decision regarding the restart of the professional game amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The United Kingdom is in lockdown until at least 7 May but the Premier League is working on its 'Project Restart' to get the 2019/20 season finished, while the English Football League board and its clubs are also holding meetings on a regular basis.

Ferdinand, who works as a pundit from BT Sport, told Good Morning Britain: "We have to go by what the Government says.

"Whatever way they see it, and if they make a decision, we have to respect that.

"Like the isolation and lockdown period, we've been very respectful of that, listened to the guidelines and stayed with that and I think the football world has to be the same.

"(We need to be) governed by the powers that be, that make a decision based on the health of the nation and the players as well."

In Europe, the feeling is mixed, to say the least.

The German Bundesliga is preparing to return to action next month, subject to the approval of the authorities.

Meanwhile, individual training has been approved to resume in Spain from 4 May and group training has been given the green light in Italy from 18 May.

The French and Dutch leagues have been forced to end though following directives at the national government level in those countries.

Oliver Dowden, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) told parliament earlier this week that he is in discussions to get the Premier League "up and running as soon as possible in order to support the whole football community".

He did add that any resumption was subject to public health guidance.

DCMS will lead meetings between medical officials from sport's governing bodies and representatives of Public Health England on a weekly basis, starting this week.

The PA news agency understands the Premier League's medical adviser Mark Gillett and the Football Association's head of medicine Charlotte Cowie are involved in the discussions, which represent a "quickening of the pace" in talks over how top-level sport can restart.

Dale Vince, the chairman of League Two side Forest Green, told the PA news agency that 6 June was the earliest resumption date under consideration.

- TEAMtalk media

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