London (AFP) – Crystal Palace chairman Steve Parish fears Premier League clubs will suffer the same “doomsday scenario” as struggling airlines unless the top-flight returns soon.
Premier League chiefs hope matches can restart in June after the competition was suspended in March because of the coronavirus.
There are many uncertainties about the potential return, but Parish is sure clubs in the top tier will be significantly affected if the sport is not back this year.
“It’s an important debate and I genuinely don’t feel that people are thinking clearly about the ramifications if we don’t play,” he told Sky Sports on Tuesday.
“If we don’t play, we are essentially throwing ourselves at the mercy of our customers.
“We will be in a position where fundamentally we are (like) airlines (are now) from August.
“So, you know, that’s a doomsday scenario but I don’t have any visibility on any income past August and I don’t understand why anybody would pay us if we’re saying we can’t put the product on for them.”
When it was suggested that the worse case would be a player losing their life or ending up in intensive care, Parish said: “Of course that comes first. I’ve said that.
“Totally, it comes first and it may well be because of that we can’t play the whole (of) next season.
“Our job is to look at that now and try and create a safe environment now. And if we can start next season under those circumstances, why wouldn’t we finish this?
“So nobody’s not putting that first. I think that, you know, that absolutely comes first, ahead of absolutely everything else. When you ask me are my players happy to play, I will make sure that they understand that.”
Parish believes there will be a “distortion probably for two seasons” in football as part of a virus fallout.
The first step is getting back on the pitch and that could well be with games played behind closed doors in neutral stadiums to complete the remaining 92 games this season.
Relegation-threatened clubs are reported to be against the neutral venue plan, with some said to be willing to vote against the Premier League’s ‘Project Restart’.
“I do fear that people are not looking far enough down the road and seeing the consequences of us not playing,” Parish said.
“I think the best way to resolve that is to resolve it competitively.
“You know, it’s the least worst option – and that’s the territory we’re in with life at the moment, we’re in least worst option territory.
“All the pitches are pretty much the same size, an empty stadium’s an empty stadium. I think it will be a level playing field from when we start. As with any season, there’ll be bumps and idiosyncrasies.”
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