English Premiership

Southgate: Responsibility to combat coronavirus lies with all of us

Gareth Southgate (Getty Images)
Gareth Southgate (Getty Images)

England manager Gareth Southgate has urged fans to work together to combat the coronavirus.

The Three Lions had been due to play Italy next Friday and Denmark four days later before the suspension of sporting action brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.

In an open letter to supporters on the official England Twitter account on Friday morning, Southgate wrote: "For everyone in our country, the primary focus of the present - and the coming months - is undoubtedly to look after our families, support our communities and work together to come through what is clearly the most extreme test that we've faced collectively in decades.

"On behalf of all the team and staff, I would like to take this opportunity to send our sympathies to those who have lost loved ones already. Our thoughts are with you and with those who sadly will suffer similarly in the coming period.

"In the way you've all come together to support our team, we must now work together to combat a virus that is causing physical and emotional issues to so many. So, please continue to follow the guidelines for hygiene and also the sensible precautions put in place to control the spread of the virus in order to protect those most vulnerable to its impact.

"That responsibility lies with us all."

Southgate added: "We are also conscious of the economic uncertainty affecting so many businesses and, consequently, virtually every family.

"Coupled with the unique challenges of self-isolation, the loss of routine to normal working and social life, we face real challenges to our mental wellbeing. Our children may feel anxious with uncertainty. It's not normal for any of us and it's going to challenge us all.

"Look out for each other. Please don't suffer alone, and remember that our great country has come through these enormous challenges before - and, together, we will do so again.

"We were due to play next week and to represent you all this summer, but now is clearly not the moment for us to take centre stage. The heroes will be the men and women who continue working tirelessly in our hospitals and medical centres to look after our friends and families. They won't receive the individual acclaim, but we all know their importance is beyond anything we do on the pitch.

"When we play again as an England team, it will be at a time when not only our country but the rest of the world as well is on the road to recovery. Hopefully we will be closer to each other than ever, and ready for the beautiful distraction that football can bring."

With Euro 2020 postponed by UEFA by a year, on Thursday British football governing bodies decided to indefinitely extend the 2019-20 football season, which will not resume until April 30 at the earliest.

Watford striker Troy Deeney believes Premier League clubs will adapt to the situation, having already had to be prepared for the disruption caused by the winter World Cup in Qatar in 2022.

"It's an ongoing conversation, it's going to get finished," Deeney told ITV's Good Morning Britain.

"With the World Cup that's coming up in the middle of the season, we've made allowances for that so we can make allowances to get the season finished.

"There's no point talking about when start dates are, let's just get through this real serious time and from there we can decide. There's nine games left, if we decide to push that into a six-week period everyone will get on with it."