Coronavirus: Premier League games 'could be held behind closed doors'

7 March 2020, 14:06

Two women in face masks on the streets of London
Two women in face masks on the streets of London. Picture: PA

By Asher McShane

Sports governing bodies and broadcasters have been called to a Government meeting to discuss how to deal with the possible impact of coronavirus on the sporting calendar.

Major events including Premier League games could be played behind closed doors because of the disease.

The meeting on Monday is part of the Government's long-term contingency planning and will cover various possibilities, such as holding events behind closed doors, should the virus continue to spread and gatherings of large numbers of people are banned.

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It will be hosted by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

Italy and Morocco have adopted similar measures with their football fixtures due to coronavirus.

Newcastle manager Steve Bruce said he believed it is inevitable that Premier League games will be held at empty stadiums due to the disease.

He said at a pre-match press conference on Friday: “"It's hard to imagine, isn't it? But obviously, they're doing it now in Italy and it's something we're probably going to face...

"People's lives are at stake and we've got to go by the authorities. But it looks pretty inevitable that could be on the cards."

New blog posts from Public Health England (PHE) suggested people may need to get supplies for loved ones if social-distancing measures are brought in and more people are told to stay at home.

The posts urged people to "plan ahead", adding: "Everyone has a part to play, and we're asking people to think about what they do in a typical week, how they could limit contact with others if asked to, and how they could help people in their community who might need support if certain social-distancing measures were put in place.

"This might include helping older relatives and neighbours to get some food in, so that they would have supplies for a week or so if required, ensuring someone would be available to go shopping for them, or arranging for online delivery if they needed it."

Prof Whitty has said half of all coronavirus cases in the UK are most likely to occur in just a three-week period, with 95% of them over a nine-week period.