Players division threatens Premier League restart plan
LONDON: The Premier league The attempt to restart the season in June is in danger of being derailed by a heated debate among players about the risks of playing amid coronavirus crisis.
While Premier league chiefs believe completing the campaign is essential to safeguard the financial and sporting future of the game, some stars are not so convinced.
Here's a look at both sides of the row:
Watford captain Troy Deeney has been one of the loudest voices against returning to the field so soon.
Although the Premier league has agreed to fund regular testing for players and staff, there is no guarantee of keeping the virus at bay while vaccine trials remain in the early stages.
In addition to Deeney's concern, black and ethnic minorities are at a higher statistical risk of dying from the virus, leaving him adamant that he will not be playing with his family's life just to satisfy the wish for soccer to resume.
I'm not even talking about soccer right now. I'm talking about my family's health, Deeney said on Instagram.
I am not going to put my family at risk. What are you going to do to take away my money? I've been bankrupt before, so it doesn't bother me.
They're talking about not playing in front of fans until 2021. So if it's not safe enough for fans to be inside a stadium, why should it be safe for players to be there?
Critics of Deeney's opinion have pointed out that Watford was just outside the relegation zone on goal difference when the season was halted, so his club would clearly benefit from the season being abandoned.
But Manchester city stars Sergio Aguero and Raheem Sterling They have also expressed concern about the restart, while Danny Rose of Newcastle, on loan from Tottenham, raged against the situation.
The government is saying 'bring football back' because it is going to boost the nation's morale. I don't care about the nation's morale, brother, people's lives are at risk, he said.
You shouldn't even talk about soccer to come back until the numbers have dropped massively.
Like Deeney and other Premier league skippers, Norwich captain Grant Hanley took part in a conference call with the Premier league this week that reportedly saw numerous disagreements.
I think the general feeling is that the players have concerns. There is so much uncertainty, Hanley told Sky Sports.
"Every team and player has got different views on it. Ultimately it's putting your family at risk that is the main concern."
In contrast to the anger expressed by some of his companions, the captain of England Harry kane he has preached a more moderate attitude.
The Tottenham Kane striker is ready to restart as long as the player's safety is the top priority.
I think most players are eager to get back to playing as soon as possible, but we know we also want to make it as safe as possible, Kane told British television show Good Morning Britain.
"Me personally, I am happy to start training in small groups if that is allowed and just trying to get back to some normality as soon as possible. I guess everyone is different and has their own personal view."
Even those willing to play, like Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham, have lent their support with warnings.
Abraham's father has asthma and the England international does not want to put him in danger.
"To go out on the pitch is a big thing for me. But my dad is asthmatic and the last thing I need is to catch the virus myself or be in contact with anyone with the virus," Abraham said.
"The Premier league and the Government have to come to a decision on whether or not it's safe enough to play again and we take it on from there. I am ready to play tomorrow if it is safe."
Encapsulating the split in the ranks, former Manchester city midfielder Joey Barton claimed Deeney is acting out of self-interest.
Barton, who is Fleetwood's manager of league One, tweeted: If Troy doesn't want to play or doesn't feel safe enough, then that's his choice.
"Let's not kid ourselves about what is going on. Big money to be had in the Premier league , who wouldn't want another year of that towards the end of your career? Got to admire the opportunism.
"Squad on huge bonus for survival. No wonder they want it null and voided."