Lambert: What’s Going On at the Minute is Crazy, There Are More Important Things Than Football
Friday, 13th Mar 2020 10:31
Manager Paul Lambert believes the UK should follow other countries and other sports and suspend football due to the coronavirus. The Blues boss could well get his wish with the EFL and Premier League both meeting this morning to discuss the matter.
At his press conference this morning Lambert mentioned that Teddy Bishop and one or two other players had coughs and colds which he says are not thought to be anything more serious.
“I certainly hope not,” he said. “I think what’s going on at the minute is crazy. [Arsenal boss] Mikel [Arteta]’s got it, Callum [Hudson-Odoi]’s got it at Chelsea, and I think there will be more, it’s going to affect everybody else.
“If the Premier League does hold a meeting and calls it off then I think everybody else has got to follow suit, you cannot play. You’re risking people’s lives and the game is nowhere near as important as people’s lives, and I think there’s so much uncertainty with it.
“Is it a calculated gamble? Scotland are doing it, Ireland’s doing it, France, Germany, Italy, America, everybody’s shutting down. Why are we any different? We play Portsmouth in a couple of weeks, did they come into contact with Mikel and Arsenal the other week there? Where is it going?”
Regarding the players who were taken unwell at Playford Road this week, Lambert says they’ve not been instructed to self-isolate.
“No, the guys with the colds came in and got checked over and they seemed okay. Bishop was the one that got sent away and we’ll see what’s happening with him.
“But nobody knows, if you get a cold they’re saying don’t get tested or stay away. I’m like everybody else, I don’t know, it’s so unclear where we’re standing at the minute.”
He confirmed that no one at Town had been tested for coronavirus: “They had a couple of colds, as I said before. Bishop got sent home with it, but I’m not saying he had a flu-like symptom. But I’ll find out more this morning.”
Lambert says he’s very much against games being played behind closed doors: “I don’t agree with it, that’s my opinion. I’ve played behind closed doors, I was part of the Scotland team that went to Monaco to play Estonia. They never turned up, and there was no team, there were no fans – it wasn’t great.
“And the game is about the public and it always will be, the game is about fans. I watched Juventus v Inter Milan and I watched PSG v Dortmund – nobody there.
“And if you look at the Paris and Dortmund game, normally that would be one of the standout ties of the Champions League, nobody there and all you could hear was guys' voices or the ball being kicked, same with the Juve game.
“That’s not football because the game is about the supporters and if there are none there I wouldn’t like to play it.
“If you’re told to play it I still think it’s wrong because it can kill the smaller clubs. If we have to play behind closed doors at home, I think we’ve got five games at home and it’s going to make a major impact on here, the revenue and those sort of things, an absolute disaster.
“I would suspend it and let it go forward and then take it into May or play three games in a week or whatever it is. I don’t think closed doors is the right way. If you’ve got to do it, you’ve got to do it, but I just think prolonging the season is probably a better idea.”
He added: “You’ve got to wait and see, but it’s a global game, it’s a global worldwide game the game of football. I’m pretty sure you guys are thinking – you go to a game, you’ll be at risk because nobody knows exactly where it is, it’s affecting everybody.
“My parents are old and everybody else is the same, there are more important things than football and I think that has to outweigh everything, what we’re doing as a sporting event.
“Every other sport is going, the Grand Prix, the Olympics could go, Wimbledon, the golf has shut down, everything is going, the NBA. What are we doing, we’re still being told to play.”
Asked whether clubs including Town are putting pressure on the EFL, he added: “I’m not sure. I think the EFL were having a chat with the hierarchy here yesterday. I think they’ve been told just to go with what the government says.
“But I think the Arsenal thing and Chelsea thing could happen tomorrow again, somebody else could come down with it.
“It seems to be every time you wake up in the morning there are other people who have it and because they’re fit young guys, they aren’t exempt from anything, it’s not discriminating against anyone, it’s coming for individuals. I think it’s a massive risk we’re taking here.
“I saw an email the other day that said when you’re at a stadium put your clothes in bags and disinfect the coat hangers. What are they doing? The easy thing is to suspend it. What are we doing, going into dressing rooms with – it’s crazy, the uncertainty is massive.”
He says the club have taken preventative measures around the training ground: “We can’t do handshakes, you’re trying to open all the doors, you’re trying to clean everything, every time you walk past a sanitiser dispenser. That’s only going to last for so long, but we’re trying everything we can.
“If it’s in the air if you cough and they’re telling you not to touch your face or touch your mouth.”
Quizzed on whether players will have to stop giving selfies and signing autographs, he added: “I think you’ve got to do that. I think I saw a bit about Jurgen [Klopp] up at Liverpool and people were trying to touch him, and he said ‘Come on, at this moment it’s not a good idea’ because you just don’t know what’s going on.
“As I said before, everybody’s life is more valuable than a game of football and I think everybody has to look at that, the hierarchy and the authorities have got to look at that. That’s just my opinion, somebody might beg to differ, but my opinion is it’s too much.”
He admits the uncertainty has hindered preparations for Saturday’s match, as it will have done at other clubs.
“I think everybody is in the same boat and I think what’s happened overnight again has escalated into the Premier League having a meeting,” he continued.
“They probably had one during the week and then the Government came out and said what they said.
“I think, especially with Mikel and Callum at Chelsea as well, I think Portsmouth and Millwall played Forest [whose owner Evangelos Marinakis has tested positive for coronavirus] not long ago. Bart [Bialkowski] was in here during the week, Bart played against Forest.
“It has a knock-on effect. We have young kids here at night time with their parents. The traffic that comes through this building every day and every night is vast. I don’t know what’s happening.”
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