Chairman of Portsmouth's League One rivals Accrington Stanley calls for EFL to pause season amid coronavirus concerns

Accrington Stanley chairman Andy Holt has called for the EFL to pause the 2019-20 campaign in response to the developing coronavirus outbreak.

Monday, 9th March 2020, 12:40 pm
Fans wear disposable face masks prior to the Premier League match between Burnley FC and Tottenham Hotspur at Turf Moor.

There have been more than 90,000 cases of the virus in 87 countries. Three people have died in the UK.

Sports authorities, broadcasters and the Government will meet today to discuss contingency plans in case coronavirus spreads further.

The Premier League and EFL have already ditched pre-match handshakes between both teams and officials until further notice because of fears the virus will spread to more people.

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Last week, health secretary Matt Hancock said he could not rule out the possibility of football matches being played behind-closed-doors at some stage.

However, Accrington Stanley chairman Holt is calling for stronger measures to be taken by the EFL.

Speaking on his Twitter account, Holt explained: "If I had my way the @EFL would pause the season in response to #COVID2019. The games can be caught up nearer summer when we know better how bad this filthy, horrible virus affects the UK.

"There is no case for continuing increasing risks with gatherings of millions of supporters, decent folk. I’d take the lead here. I would not wait for others to decide. My mates in Italy all say their government acted too late. There will be a cost to clubs, but not nearly enough to take the risk."

Despite his concerns, however, Holt insisted he was 'not in a state of panic' and proceeded to outline potential plans that the EFL should be considering.

"As Henry Ford once said ‘why have risk where you don’t need any?’ The @EFL could easily borrow cash against future TV income to help clubs bridge the gap.

"WE SHOULD NOT BE GAMING THIS virus. One life lost is too many and I don’t care how old or infirm the person is."

Holt then called for 'strong leadership' from the EFL, something he claims he has 'never seen' from the organisation.

"Time to get the tanks on the lawn," said. Older people don’t deserve to die. I’m sick of hearing ‘but he (or she) was old and had pre-existing conditions.'"