Report: 'Growing Number' of EPL Players Don't Want to Play Amid Coronavirus

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistApril 29, 2020

Leicester City's English striker Jamie Vardy (R) shakes hands with Manchester City's Argentinian striker Sergio Aguero (L) on the pitch after the English Premier League football match between Leicester City and Manchester City at King Power Stadium in Leicester, central England on December 26, 2018. - Leicester won the game 2-1. (Photo by Lindsey PARNABY / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. /         (Photo credit should read LINDSEY PARNABY/AFP via Getty Images)
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A "growing number" of Premier League players are reportedly hesitant about resuming the 2019-20 season amid the coronavirus pandemic.  

ESPN's Alex Shaw reported Wednesday that players have expressed "severe reservations" ahead of a meeting between the league's clubs Friday to discuss options to finish the term.

"A lot of players are very uncomfortable with coming back," a source from a Premier League club told Shaw. "The only way the league takes this seriously is when someone at a club dies. We will look back on this time with sadness in the future."

The Premier League launched "Project Restart" as three clubs—Arsenal, Brighton and West Ham—reopened their training grounds Monday to begin preparations for the resumption of play.

"I personally have been in talks with the Premier League with a view to getting football up and running as soon as possible in order to support the whole football community," UK culture secretary Oliver Dowden told reporters. "But, of course, any such moves would have to be consistent with public health guidance."

Players have expressed concern about playing matches while social-distancing guidelines otherwise remain active in the country, however, and there's been particular pushback from those with young family members or pregnant wives, per Shaw.

The ESPN report noted any talk of a player strike if the season is resumed is "premature," though.

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Premier League matches have been suspended since March 13 because of COVID-19.

The Dutch Eredivisie became the first major European league to cancel the remainder of its 2019-20 season Friday, stating no champion would be crowned with no promotion or relegation from the top division.

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced Tuesday all major sporting events in the country would be on hold until at least September, effectively ending the football seasons. Ligue 1 is considering three options on how to present the final table:

Simon Evans of Reuters reported Tuesday that UEFA set a May 25 deadline for European leagues to make a final decision about whether to resume 2019-20 play so they can begin planning the schedule for next season's club tournaments.

Liverpool were 25 points clear atop the Premier League table when play was suspended, needing just six points to clinch the title with nine matches remaining.

Manchester City and Chelsea also remained active in the Champions League knockout rounds at the time the tournament was halted.


Bleacher Report's David Gardner interviews athletes and other sports figures for the podcast How to Survive Without Sports.