Portsmouth midfielder Ben Close's view on player safety fears over a return to action

Ben Close is confident football authorities won’t put lives at risk by rushing a return to the season.

Saturday, 11th April 2020, 6:00 am

The Pompey midfielder promised he has faith in the EFL and FA to only reintroduce football when it’s safe to do so amid the coronavirus crisis.

Close’s view comes in the wake of EFL chairman Alan Parry contacting clubs and stating he believes the season could be completed in 56 days, with players not to return to training until May 16 at the earliest.

Blues chief executive Mark Catlin believes football needs to play its role in society getting back to a degree of normality when the moment arrives to do so.

Restarting football will mean players coming into contact with each other within the cut and thrust of competitive action, giving rise to questions about the spread of Covid-19.

Close’s belief is all the right precautions will be taken before that scenario is tackled.

He said: ‘The way the EFL are talking the season will be finished.

‘It will need to be finished and I think they will do it safely.

Ben Close. Picture: Nigel Keene

‘I’ve got full trust in the EFL to make the right decision when it comes to the right time to play again.

‘I’m sure they won’t put the players in danger, if they did that they’d be putting players at risk and causing all sorts of problems.

‘I think they will do it when the time is right.

‘We can’t stay indoors forever and the day will come to play again.

‘So I do trust the EFL, the FA and the people making that decision to do it at the right time and introduce football again when it’s safe to do so.

‘When you start playing again there will be contact, so it’s about people doing the right thing up to the day that arrives. The more people do that the sooner that day will come.’

The likelihood appears that when football returns it will be played behind closed doors, with obvious concerns about transmitting Covid-19 at mass gatherings.

That will be an odd and unprecedented situation in English football, but one Close is supportive of in an efforts to complete the season.

He added: ‘It will be strange playing behind closed doors, but the EFL have made it clear their main aim is to get the season finished when it’s safe to do so.

‘They are going to need to do that as quickly as they can, but also as safely as they can.

‘So if that means it’s going to take games being played behind closed doors then we’re prepared to do that.

‘It’s not like it’s going to last forever, so we’ll cope for it as long as it lasts and get on with it.

‘I think players are looking forward to the day they can play again. They just want to get out there again.

‘It won’t be nice for fans, but it will make the day they return a really special occasion – for us as players, too.’