Portsmouth chief executive lays down timetable for English football to get back on track amid pandemic crisis

Mark Catlin has laid down his blueprint for English football to recover from the impact of the coronavirus crisis.

Monday, 30th March 2020, 4:45 pm
Updated Monday, 30th March 2020, 5:02 pm

And the Pompey chief-executive’s timetable to get the game back on track includes just a two-week break from completing the present campaign to getting the 2020-21 season underway.

Football is agonising over the best way to move forward as and when there’s any respite from the effects of the Covid-19 virus on everyday life.

Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin has suggested the European governing body are looking at dates to restart the game in mid-May, June and the end of June, as well as the possible option of continuing at the start of next term and pushing back the beginning of the 2021-22 campaign.

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Catlin has broken down a 13-week period in which he feels clubs could complete their obligations to the current season and get the next underway.

That includes setting time aside for a period for players to build their fitness, which is in line with the expert advice with it now three weeks since Pompey played their last game.

Pompey’s remaining League One games were due to be played over a seven-week time frame, but Catlin feels those and the league’s play-off matches could be played over six to eight weeks.

Then the plan would be for a massively condensed two-week closed season before getting the next is up and running.

Mark Catlin

Catlin said: ‘I’m not going to suggest a date in which things can start because things are so speculative.

‘But in terms of time scales, I think from initiating training to the first game I think you will need three weeks as a minimum to get the players up to some level of fitness after this.

‘Then, I think, and this is just my idea and one of many which is floating around, I think you could cram the remaining nine games and play-offs into a six-to-eight week period.

‘Then we could have two weeks off and come back straightaway with the start of next season.

‘When we hopefully get the go date you’re probably looking at a period of eight-to-nine weeks to get players up to speed and then complete the season before a short break and starting again.

‘All-in, if you went for a maximum total of 14 weeks or so you’re probably looking at a time scale which is achievable from finishing this season into the start of the next.’

Catlin has made it clear Pompey’s view is in line with most in football and they want to see the season finished.

That view recognises the massive penalty clauses the Premier League and EFl would be hit with if that didn't happen, as well as potential lawsuits from clubs being denied promotion.

Sacrifices such as a shortened closed season in which clubs would do their transfer business would have to be made to make completion a reality.

But he feels condensing this season into a much shorter period than currently scheduled would not be a wise move.

He said: ‘I suppose the smart clubs, like we are, are already planning for their recruitment.

‘Even if the following season has to roll over somewhat into the summer then so be it

‘Unless football wants to take a huge hit in terms of the TV rights deals, I don’t see any other way out.

‘You just can’t fit x number of games in and maintain the integrity of the competition.’