Frank Lampard believes football must only resume when it is evidently safe to do so and has called for a careful examination of all the issues before a decision is made.
At a meeting of Premier League shareholders on Friday, clubs continued discussions on possible steps to resuming the 2019/20 season and reiterated a collective commitment to finishing the campaign in order to maintain the integrity of the competition.
A UK Government medical working group has also been set up to plot the return of elite sport once nationwide lockdown measures are eased. Lampard understands the appetite to see football back as soon as possible but he also cautioned that the health of players and staff working in the game must not be compromised.
‘I’m very aware of the nation’s desire to get football back on because of what it means, the escapism and the fact we love our football, but I’m also aware of the many obstacles that we have to overcome,’ he said on BT Sport’s Early Kick-Off show today.
‘We’re all desperate to watch football, to play football and train again. However, we cannot risk the health of players and staff who are working in football and we have to respect the amazing work that the NHS and care workers have been doing.’
Lampard went on to explain the key considerations that he feels should be weighed up before any significant decisions are made, including the fact that football should not take important resources away from the healthcare frontline at such a critical time.
‘I welcome the fact that the Premier League have said player and staff health and safety will come first,’ he continued, ‘and that they’re going to have conversations with players and managers within that because that hasn’t really happened to be honest.’
‘What I would say is the idea of the health and safety of players and staff is huge. At the moment, the country has practised social distancing so well but the fact we play this contact sport, how are we going to not put the players at risk in terms of the next few weeks if we can get to a stage where that can happen?
‘The other issue is when we talk about the testing we’ll have to be doing. We have probably about 70 or 80 staff at Cobham minimum if we’re going to restart training and we’re going to have test regularly.
‘When we’re looking around the world, I don’t know the testing numbers for NHS and care workers and people that are doing these incredible jobs over the last two months or so. I don’t think it would sit well, not just with me but with anybody, if we didn’t make sure that people getting tested are in that frontline. I think that’s important for football to take its place.
‘After that, we probably have the football integrity issues such as neutral venues and out-of-contract players, of which we have a couple of major ones, so there are many conversations and I think that’s very clear to see at the minute.’