THE coronavirus is a crisis the likes of which the world has not seen for a long time, shutting football down.

Perhaps unsurprisingly it took Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta and Chelsea forward Callum Hudson-Odoi testing positive to eventually stop the English game in its tracks, rather than fans’ well-being.

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 Liverpool were closing in on a first ever Premier League title when the season was delayed

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Liverpool were closing in on a first ever Premier League title when the season was delayedCredit: REX

Remember there are around 3,500 players and managers across the four leagues, while around 700,000 supporters watch it in our stadiums each week.

Now all eyes are on when the matches will be back.

It cannot be beyond the wit of the FA, Premier League, EFL, Uefa, TV rights holders and clubs to come up with a solution to complete this season.

I note certain voices have already suggested the season could be declared null and void, but why should the white flag be hoisted just yet?

Nice try, Karren, for your lot at West Ham. But I suspect fans of Liverpool, Leeds, West Brom, Coventry, Rotherham, Crewe and Swindon — let alone those in play-off spots — might have something to say to the contrary to Ms Brady.

Most sides have around ten league games left, so some hard truths need to be faced if we want to retain the integrity of the season.

Euro 2020 has already been postponed until 2021. Broadcasters must accept new schedules, European competitions may be lost in favour of domestic leagues and fans may have to face the loss of season-ticket monies and live games.

If the landscape has not changed much by the time we get to April 4 — the date when the Premier League is due to return — a contingency plan could be drawn up.

Here is my five-point plan:

  1.  Extend the Premier League postponement until the middle of May, which means there will have been eight weeks off to deal with coronavirus.
  2. Schedule any remaining fixtures over two-and-a-half months between May and July.
  3. If needed, play some or all of the remaining games behind-closed-doors.
  4. Delay the start of the 2020/21 season until the beginning of September, giving the players a month off in August as their break and pre-season. That may seem tight, but they will have had two months off, plus the winter break earlier in the year.
  5. Remove the winter break in 2021 to compensate for the fixture compression as a result of the late start.

With sport not actually being that important in the wider scheme of things, perhaps the season can be parked. But let’s not do that — let’s overcome this instead.

Simon Jordan

If games are required to be played behind closed doors, the loss of income becomes a big factor for every club. They would face losing around five home games’ worth of revenue.

When you consider walk-up tickets, secondary spend and sponsorship, in League Two clubs would lose an average of £300,000 per club.

In League One, it would rise to around £550,000 and it would be roughly £1.2million in the Championship.

An average Premier League club with a crowd of 35,000 would lose out on between £3m and £5m over five games.

As clubs face having to refund pro-rated season tickets, I have discounted season ticket reimbursements as I would assume — especially in the lower leagues — fans would not demand their money back if it was going to jeopardise the future of their clubs.

So, given money is a big part of the question as to whether there’s a need for the season’s completion, this is how it looks.

There will be a £50m black hole for all clubs outside the top flight and around £100m for those in the Premier League.

That is £150m to fund a behind-closed-doors spell that will keep the integrity of our football season.

Given the bulk of that money pays players’ wages, the PFA should help out with their £30m reserves as a starter.

And given that managers like Antonio Conte can be paid vast sums in compensation by Chelsea, then football can surely fund the balance from a combination of the FA and the Premier League.

With sport not actually being that important in the wider scheme of things, perhaps the season can be parked. But let’s not do that — let’s overcome this instead.

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Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin says Europe must unite against coronavirus to save football calendar



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