The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has expressed his opposition to the idea of the Premier League resuming in the capital next month while the COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause hundreds of deaths in the UK each day, a spokesperson for the mayor’s office has said.
The possibility of a restart next month was given a boost when the government said elite sport could return behind closed doors after June 1.
“Sadiq is extremely keen for the Premier League and professional sport in general to resume,” the spokesperson told the Evening Standard.
“However, with the country still in the grips of this crisis, and hundreds of people dying every day, he believes that it is too early to be discussing the resumption of the Premier League and top-flight sport in the capital.”
There are five Premier League clubs based in London — including Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur.
“As a Liverpool fan, Sadiq, of course, wants the Premier League to return,” the spokesperson added. “But it can only happen when it is safe to do so, and it cannot place any extra burden on the NHS and emergency services.”
Liverpool lead the league with nine rounds remaining and need only six points to seal the title.
An official protocol sent to Premier League players and managers outlining conditions for returning to training said pitches, corner flags, cones and goal posts would have to be disinfected after each session.
Players will be tested twice per week for the virus and take a daily temperature check, while they will also be forbidden from congregating together or traveling to or from training with teammates.
Professional Footballers’ Association chief executive Gordon Taylor said it was crucial that every safety precaution had been taken for the players.
“The players don’t want to be seen as guinea pigs and that will apply to everyone in professional sport,” Taylor told Sky Sports.
“It’s about getting the balance of safety and also trying to get back to normality as much as possible … We need to give everyone confidence that every single safety measure has been taken on their behalf.”
The United Kingdom is the worst-affected country in Europe with over 32,000 deaths reported due to the new coronavirus while there are more than 223,000 confirmed cases.