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13 March 2020

BURTON Albion manager Nigel Clough has said that football should do whatever it needs to do in light of the COVID-19 outbreak but playing behind doors is not his favoured option.

The EFL, Premier League and UEFA released statements this morning postponing all fixtures, including all those across English football, until at least April 3, as the UK and rest of the world deals with the pandemic.

“I am glad we are not playing behind closed doors,” said Clough. “Delaying games is better, but I don’t like the idea of playing behind closed doors.”

“I understand it [as a suggestion] but football is a spectator sport. I understand it if teams are in Europe for the odd one, but if someone said you have to play your next eight or nine games behind closed doors then I certainly don’t think it helps anybody in terms of the football.”

The Brewers now know that tomorrow’s home game against Wycombe Wanderers is postponed after a week of uncertainty about if the game would go ahead.

Clough said: “All we have done is try and implement the advice, [including] from the NHS too, and put that across to the players. 

“Everyone is aware of it, but we are on at them to make sure they are following the advice the best they can. That is all we can do at this stage. 

“We are not in every day which helps, so spending as little time as possible together will help prevent anything from happening.

“The players can go to the physio and the club doctor, but everyone needs to be aware of it. Arsenal, Chelsea and Everton have got it and it is at the highest level. That is probably because they have been tested, but I am sure that it is throughout society.”

At the time of the postponement, the Brewers sit 12th in the table with 48 points; 11 points from the play-offs but safely secure from relegation 16 points below. Therefore, from a footballing-point of view, there is little to play for both above and below, but it is a different matter for those at the top and bottom of leagues across English football.  

Clough said: “The biggest decision of all is one that has already been decided and that is Liverpool winning the league - I think they can safely say that! 

“However, that must be the only one because everything else in every league is up for grabs and it is going to be really interesting to see how they come up with a solution to that. 

“It is not directly our problem, but I don’t know where you go with it. There are a few sports that are just starting out with their new season. That’s easier because you can just delay the start of the season, but when you have 10 games to go and everything to play for, I don’t know how you can sort that out.

“We sit here in a strange position in regards to the league position. We wish we had something to play for and we have seen how tight it is from second down to eighth or ninth, but I wish we were in that mix.”

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