Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has expressed his concerns over a Premier League return in the city and believes it is ‘too early’ to resume fixtures in the capital.
The Government’s plans to ease lockdown restrictions has accelerated the prospect of professional football resuming, with the go-ahead having been given for the Premier League to return behind-closed-doors from June 1.
Several obstacles still need to be overcome before football can resume next month, with any return to action dependent on the number of coronavirus cases dropping significantly in the coming weeks.
The prospect of playing games at neutral venues, including Wembley, has been met with growing opposition from teams up and down the division in recent days, with the Premier League having approached the government to consider to the possibility of allowing home and away games to take place behind closed doors.
London has been once of the worst-affected cities in the world amidst the coronavirus pandemic, and despite a dip in the numbers following the country’s lockdown, Khan believes it is too soon to be contemplating Premier League football being played in the capital.
“Sadiq is extremely keen for the Premier League and professional sport in general to resume,” a spokesman for the Mayor of London told the Evening Standard.
“However, with the country still in the grips of this crisis, and hundreds of people dying every day, he believes that it is too early to be discussing the resumption of the Premier League and top-flight sport in the capital.
“As a Liverpool fan, Sadiq of course wants the Premier League to return, but it can only happen when it is safe to do so, and it cannot place any extra burden on the NHS and emergency services.”
Concerns also remain over the health and welfare of the players involved, with several Premier League players – including Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero and Chelsea’s Antonio Rudiger – expressing their apprehension over returning to action.
Khan has echoed those sentiments and believes a number of questions must first be answered before elite level sport resumes in the UK.
“Sadiq is also concerned about the welfare of players competing in all professional sports, not just football,” added the spokesman. “There are huge questions to be asked how players could train safely, how they would travel to matches and how they could play competitive matches without the risk of spreading infection.”