Portsmouth CEO Mark Catlin urges clubs to put self-interest aside as football looks for solutions to coronavirus crisis

Mark Catlin has urged clubs to put self-interest aside as football searches for the answers to the coronavirus crisis.

By Jordan Cross
Friday, 27th March 2020, 1:00 pm
Updated Friday, 27th March 2020, 4:32 pm

The Pompey chief executive believes it’s critical EFL and Premier League members put the good of the game first in the face of the monumental challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

English football at elite level today finds itself in a state of flux with matches on hold until April 30 - and widely expected to be pushed back further as meetings among stakeholders take place today.

The debate rages as to whether a cancellation of the campaign or reorganistion of the calendar is the best course of action to take, with some clubs fearing financial meltdown.

But with football authorities fearing huge penalty clauses from TV rights holders in the face of an incomplete season, their position is the fixture list should be concluded.

Catlin feels taking into account the wider impact of any decision has to be the motivating factor over individual circumstances.

He said: ‘From an operational sense the smart call would be draw the line under this season and prepare to start again in August.

‘But with any call you have to have the facts at your disposal and, as reported, our media stakeholders contractually have to see the season finished.

Pompey chief executive Mark Catlin

‘The financial consequences of that not happening to the EFL and Premier League would far outweigh any decision to abandon the season and start afresh in August.

‘You could also add in legal actions from clubs in the top positions. If the season was voided with no promotion or relegation you could envisage lawsuits starting to fly around.

‘Given that balance, the smart call would be to try to get the season finished whenever that would be.

‘While 99.9 per cent of the time my priority is to Portsmouth Football Club, this is so potentially damaging we have to think bigger - and protect football as an industry.

‘It looks pretty sad if people are coming out and wanting the season voided when they are in the relegation zone.

‘My rationale is Portsmouth are in a great position with nine games to go. We’re in a great position to get promoted to the Championship.

‘It’s not in our interest to see the season voided, but if I felt that was in the best interest of football it’s one of the only decisions I would take which wouldn’t suit Portsmouth.

‘It would suit football and the integrity of football - and I’m trying to take a view for the good of football as a whole.’

Reports have circulated the EFL have told members to expect the current April 30 suspension to be put back.

That was a move which was widely expected, and Catlin explained there is little in the correspondence Pompey have received which would surprise the wider public.

He added: ‘The EFL have kept clubs regularly informed.

‘I don’t think there's anything in the letters coming from them that I’ve been party to, which would be a shock to anyone.

‘There’s dates in there over when the season could restart, but, like us they are walking in the dark.

‘Will it be the end of April, May or June?

‘There’s nothing sinister in the communications others than to say the end of April is probably looking like a big best-cased scenario and we should keep contingencies this could go on for a lot longer.

‘There’s nothing being said which wouldn’t be beyond commonsense anyway.

‘I don’t think anyone can predict a level of normality, if normality is possible after this.’