Wayne Rooney said he believes the coronavirus pandemic might mean the loss of the 2020-21 season in English football but insisted the Football Association is right to prioritise completing the current season whenever that becomes possible.
The former England captain commended the FA’s decision to extend the length of the current season indefinitely, describing it as “the fair thing” for promotion, relegation and title races to be settled.
Rooney, who plays for Derby County in the Championship, indicated he is opposed to matches being played behind closed doors given the strain emergency services are already under across the UK.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if finishing the season takes until the end of 2020,” Rooney said in The Times.
“Football, like every other industry, is in unknown territory and, just like every other industry, has to listen to the advice and take all necessary precautions. For me, that rules out finishing the season behind closed doors.
“When you play behind closed doors it still means bringing together a fairly large group of people. You need ambulances, doctors, paramedics. They’re mandatory. Police may be needed too. Why bring them all to a football match when in this crisis they will be needed elsewhere for things that are far more important?
“I wouldn’t be comfortable playing a game knowing there were people dying or very sick because of coronavirus and we’re taking those workers away from the front line.”
Our board has agreed to extend the 2019-20 professional football season indefinitely, with leagues and competitions now suspended until at least 30 April. https://t.co/tVh1EadOta
— The FA (@FA) March 19, 2020
Despite enjoying two spe
lls at Everton and spending 13 years at Manchester United, Rooney hailed his former clubs’ rivals Liverpool as deserving winners of the Premier League and tipped them to finish the job when the season resumes.
Derby are 12th in the Championship but only five points outside the play-off positions, and Rooney underlined the importance of avoiding the legal ramifications that abandonment of the current season would trigger.
“The FA helped to clarify that the league season will finish and that is fair,” said the 34-year-old striker.
“Liverpool will win the Premier League. [They] have been fantastic. They have put so much work in. They deserve this title. Can you imagine waiting 30 years and then having it taken away like this? The right decision has been made.
“It’s also right in terms of promotion and relegation and places. These issues are so big for the clubs involved that I imagine there would be a lot of legal fights if the season was just abandoned. The fair thing is to finish 2019-20 — even if we have to lose next season in the process.”
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