Great Britain

Coronavirus: Season must be completed says QPR boss Warburton

Queens Park Rangers manager Mark Warburton

Queens Park Rangers manager Mark Warburton

PA Wire/PA Images

QPR boss Mark Warburton insists the current season must be completed – even if it takes until the end of the year to do so as he called on organisers to offer clarity with a realistic restart date.

As things stand, the Football Association, Premier League, EFL and Women’s Super League are scheduled to resume their respective competitions on April 30 after all were stalled by the coronavirus outbreak.

That date will almost certainly be moved back for the third time when those bodies hold a meeting next week, with an actual time-frame for return likely to be much further away.

Tiers further down the football pyramid have cancelled their delayed leagues, meaning promotion and relegation will not occur.

There has been some talk of a similar measure taking place across all levels, but Warburton feels the game would suffer if a season which was nearing completion was simply expunged.

“I get really frustrated,” he told the PA news agency.

“I can’t understand, you can’t have this global pandemic and expect nothing to change.

“You have to feel change somewhere, we need to finish this season and I can’t believe in some places what I am reading (about cancelling the season).

“For the integrity of the game, for the fans, they need this season to finish – so we do that. If that means we finish everything by November 1, we say the new season would start December 1.”

Warburton then suggested the 2020/21 season could be truncated and played under different rules to be able to be completed in time for Euro 2021, which UEFA has announced will begin on June 11 next year.

“There is a four-week transfer window, we deal with it. Then we have got from December 1 to say, through to May 21, we have got to put our season into there,” he explained.

“What do we do? A one-season different format? Do you have a knockout type where the top-half go into play-offs? A different format for one season to recognise the fact we have faced an unprecedented social event.

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“We are going to have some pain, people might not like it, but we just have to finish this season.

“I’m speaking from a neutral standpoint, QPR in the middle of the table, we aren’t Liverpool or West Brom or Leeds at the top of the table but you have got to finish this season.

Such steps seem radical but could be necessary if football cannot return for the foreseeable future.

Warburton feels setting a date to resume is needed – but that it should be one further down the road and which should not then need to be adjusted every time the organisers convene as the outbreak continues.

“It is the uncertainty for me,” he added. “Football is one tiny, micro part of what is going on in the world but when they have some clarity of the resumption of the league programme then we can all work towards that day.

“If they say September 1, for example, I think if we know that is the start date then August 1 the players return. It is a way away but would respect the health situation and, God willing, gives time for all this to peak and pass.

“It gives fans, players, staff to work towards and that is what we need right now – it is the uncertainty causing the anxiety in most people at the moment.

“There are some very, very smart minds on these big committees but if I am in charge of one of those committees right now we are agreeing a date.

“We agree that football will resume, use that date September 1 again, so four weeks earlier all clubs agree to bring their players back and have a level playing field.

“At least that is in the diary, all contracts are extended. The league season can’t be finished over 11 weeks – it could be eight games in three weeks, if that is what it is don’t complain about it, it would be the same for everybody.

“If there is a dramatic improvement health-wise, the clarity would still be there. Follow the same process and it goes from September 1 to August 1, no issues.

“We have got to be flexible because we are facing uncharted territory and the more uncertainty we have – meeting and saying April 30, meet again and say May 15, then June 1 – it just delays the inevitable, makes the wait all the more tedious, the uncertainty greater and increases the anxiety for so many people.”

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