Portsmouth chief executive Mark Catlin's gives insight into developments after dramatic shift over game’s return

Mark Catlin told of the growing belief in football the season can be completed.

Sunday, 26th April 2020, 6:00 am

The Blues chief executive admitted he’d started to doubt if there was a way to finish the campaign amid the coronavirus crisis.

But following developments over the weekend, there’s now a heightening conviction there’s a path for this term being seen through to a conclusion.

Reports emerged yesterday meetings are to take place between the government, chief medical officer and the major sport’s medical directors, with a view to games returning to our lives.

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The growing optimism and feeling of movement towards an end to the elite football suspension has lifted Catlin’s spirits.

He’s always been an outspoken advocate of completing the campaign, but has seen at close quarters the complexities associated with that occurring.

Catlin feels getting the government on board in discussions is a key moment, however.

Mark Catlin

He said: ‘There’s a lot going on and a lot of preparation happening.

‘I’d got to a stage where I was thinking finishing the season was a bit of a forlorn hope - but now we are seeing a concerted effort from the government.

‘Really that’s been the thing. It’s not been the football authorities, it’s the government.

‘We can have an input but this is a much bigger problem than just being football related. It’s out of our hands to a degree.

‘The talks I was in on Friday there was a suggestion high-level talks had taken place between the Premier League and government, to try to make a few exceptions for football to just lift the mood of the country - if it’s safe to do so.

‘It definitely seems to have some foundation now.’

June 6 has been earmarked for a potential return date with a view to completing the season in 56 days.

Peterborough owner Darragh MacAnthony has stated there’s a view that could be shortened to as little as 28 days, although Catlin stated he’s unaware of any plans to do so at present.

He added: ‘The last official confirmation I had was 56 days.

‘To get the 56 days in an orderly fashion you’re looking at the first week in June.

‘You might be able to condense it to a 40-45 days, with goodwill from all parties you could have the last day in July as your line in the sand.

‘If you talk to players, agents, PFA and EFL, as I have, there’s a sense people would pull together if that was the end date of the season.

‘If you go beyond the end of the July with players needing new contracts, I think it’s going to be a really difficult one to pull off.

‘Then we’re finishing to maintain integrity - but there’s not a lot of integrity left if you’re playing teams who are putting out kids because they haven’t signed anyone after their contracts ended.’