With no Premier League football to talk about, there’s only one point of discussion at the moment: when will it return?
The coronavirus pandemic has caused our beloved beautiful game to come to an unprecedented halt – and top flight chiefs are desperately trying to come up with a solution as to when the rest of the campaign can be finished.
The Premier League has been suspended since March and people are divided as to when it should resume
The latest development is that an agreement between the 20 Premier League teams will see small group training back on the agenda, with a further discussion scheduled for May 26 to debate contact training.
But in all honesty, it seems like everyone is putting in their six pence about what is the safest solution to finish the campaign.
Liverpool fans, unsurprisingly, hope the season can be resumed as soon as possible as their side stand just six points away from their first title in 30 years.
However, many have cast doubts about whether it is safe for football to return given the dangers of coronavirus.
So what have players, managers and pundits said about the proposed return? talkSPORT.com has identified the best comments below…
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Chelsea boss Lampard has said his only priority is that his players feel comfortable with most of them set to return to training this week.
He said: Its been a job for us as staff to plan how phase one will look because it will be quite different due to the restrictions on how we can work.
Its good for the players because they will be wanting to get back training in the right conditions; we know its difficult circumstances for everyone so its going to be a challenge to make sure that we get it right.
Our job from the coaching side is to make sure were careful with the players. The first steps will have to be very careful but all managers will be thinking a similar thing.
You cant just tell them were going in this direction because this is something thats affected everyone and their families.
Football has been put in its place. Everyone wants to get back playing, we all miss it, but we need to know the players are comfortable.
Frank Lampard is in favour of the Premier League resuming – but only if players are comfortable with it
Newcastle boss Bruce believes the planning of the restart has put the Premier League in a good position to resume.
“They have done everything they possibly can to make sure everyone is safe,” he said. “The attention to detail is fantastic. I think everything has been put in place.
“They have been meticulous in their planning. The vast majority of our squad are satisfied (with the first phase training protocols). Let’s get up and going and see where it takes us. I think all of us want to get it started and finished.”
Bruce is hopeful that clubs will be able to move on to contact training and then to a Premier League restart in the coming weeks once the players are fit enough to resume.
“Players have been off eight to nine weeks. Normally in pre-season it takes six weeks to get them right and six games (friendlies) so it’s going to be a bit of a shot in the dark but I hope we get the second phase (contact training) done.”
Steve Bruce believes preparation has been good for the Premier League to return
The Arsenal boss, who was the first high-profile person in English football to contract coronavirus, believes everyone in football is ‘willing to play’ but the decision should not be rushed.
He said: I think the hardest thing is going to be to educate the players and everybody involved at the training ground and matchdays that this is different and we have to be very strict with the protocols.
Common sense will dictate when we can take the next step and the next step and the next. We cannot rush it.
Were all aiming to play. We need to play, we are willing to play. Its important for us, the society and the economy.
We have that responsibility so we just have to be ready. Whenever they say, go ahead, open that door and hit the gas.
Mikel Arteta was the first high-profile person in football to contract coronavirus in March
Crystal Palace chief Parish says the return of the Premier League could offer people small relief from worries of the coronavirus crisis and help define the ‘new normal’ for other industries.
He said: “Football cannot occupy any paramedic or ambulance that the NHS needs. We must do our best not to create a public-order issue with supporters attempting to get close to grounds. Perhaps most importantly, we cannot take testing capacity from one person in greater need.
“I believe that just as Formula One is often the precursor to developments that become standard in general road vehicles, so Premier League football with its physical science, medical infrastructures and resources for looking after its people, can begin to define how the ‘new normal’ might look for a lot of working environments.
“Not only that, in our country and beyond, people need to find ways to move forward mentally, to experience some small relief from the worries of this crisis. In my view, a story here and a conversation there about the game last night will not trivialise loss or suffering but offer a tiny respite from it for many people.
“Football is meaningless – but it is magnificently meaningless. It has the power to lighten lives; why not see if we can use that power again?”
Parish believes the return of football will benefit many clubs
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Manchester United boss Solskjaer believes the return of the Premier League will give the public a much-needed lift.
It will definitely give everyone a lift I think the majority of the country depends on football,” he said.
With the summer holidays with no Euros or World Cups you are starved from football and can’t wait for August to come back and the League to start again.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is for the restart of the Premier League
The Belgium boss said the return of football has to be considered as nothing will return to normality until a vaccine is discovered.
He told Drive on talkSPORT: You need to understand the circumstances of not finishing the season could be drastic for many institutions.
So you need to find a solution. We all need to bring a bit of common sense and understand until we get a vaccine, we wont get a normality.
So from that point of view, we need to get sport back, we need to get football back, we need to get that little bit of light, that little bit of stimulation for the whole of humanity that we can beat this virus.”
Roberto Martinez has not managed in the Premier League since being sacked by Everton in May 2016
Troy Deeney right to refuse to return to Watford training over COVID-19 fears, says Ally McCoist – There is no argument against him.
The Watford captain spoke to talkSPORT last week and expressed his fears of potentially passing the virus to a member of his young family.
Were due back in this week, and Ive said Im not going,” he said.
Within the meeting I asked very simple questions; for Black, Asian and mixed ethnicities they are four times more likely to get the illness and twice as likely to have long lasting illness Is there any additional screening? Heart stuff to see if anyone has a problem?
I feel that should be addressed. I cant get a haircut until mid-July but I can go and get in a box with 19 people and jump for a header? I dont know how that works.
No one could answer the questions not because they didnt want to, but because they didnt have the information.
I just said. If you dont know the information, why would I put myself at risk?.
Deeney is incredibly skeptical about the Premier Leagues Project Restart
Hornet boss Pearson echoed Deeney’s concerns, insisting someone could die if the Premier League is rushed back too soon.
God forbid we have a fatality, he said. People are closing their eyes to the threat.
Yes, we would like to restart it but its got to be safe. We should be cautious. To ignore possibilities is foolhardy. Its about safeguarding peoples health.
We have to try to believe (Government) advice that were being given that weve reached the peak but theres still an incredible number of people losing their lives through this.
The death toll in the UK is anything between 33,000 and 38,000. Thats filling our stadium and then filling it half again. Its a sobering thought.
Watford manager Nigel Pearson is worried there could be a fatality if the Premier League returns too early
Man City and England forward Sterling believes Premier League players’ health and fitness cannot be compromised just for football to return.
He said: You cant come back in with one-and-a-half or two weeks (of training).
Youd need a full four to five weeks, especially if youre going to go back into competition, when youre literally paid to win. You do need to do that preparation you cant just go straight in.
Sterling has expressed his concerns over the plans to resume the Premier League next month
The Tottenham defender, who is on loan at Newcastle for the remainder of the 2019/20 campaign, cannot fathom how the football authorities in this country can justify the 2019/20 season resuming with people still dying from COVID-19.
Its a f***ing joke, Im not even going to lie, he said on an Instagram Live. The government is saying bring football back because its going to boost the nations morale, I dont give a f*** about the nations morale.
Peoples lives are at risk, you know what I mean? Football shouldnt even be spoken about coming back until the numbers have dropped massively. Its b*******.”
Danny Rose is vehemently against plans for the Premier League to resume
Speaking on the talkSPORT Breakfast, Arsenal legend Parlour said players should be allowed to say no to returning, as there is more at stake for them than just money.
You cant put pressure on players like that, said the former Arsenal midfielder.
If theyre not 100 per cent, you dont know what their lifestyles are like, they might have a pregnant wife at home, they might have older relatives living with them and they cant put them in jeopardy.
Were talking about lives here, this isnt just a football match. You can go and play football, yes, but it can be an absolute nightmare for families.
30,000 people have lost their lives thats more important than football.
Parlour believes no one can force Premier League stars to play against their will
The outspoken talkSPORT host, and ex-Crystal Palace owner, believes a June restart should not be a possibility, insisting that it is only being made an option because of the Liverpool and Leeds’ current positions.
“The season, for all manner of reasons, needs to be completed properly, not by changing the format. And, as yet, it hasnt reached the tipping point where thats an impossibility.
But, frankly, if a June-only return date is available for football to complete its calendar then the 2019/20 season should be voided.
In the 1974 Charity Shield, two domestic powerhouses playing in that game, Liverpool and Leeds, would never have thought, 46 years later, one would be vying for their first championship in 30 years and the other out of the elite for nearly two decades.
They will both be apoplectic about any voiding notion.
But bringing back football in the eye of a pandemic, to protect Premier League broadcast deals which can be renegotiated, to give Liverpool the title and perhaps promote Leeds and West Brom, makes scant sense to the majority of the football world.
With no Premier League football to talk about, there’s only one point of discussion at the moment: when will it return?