Lambert: The Premier League Should Step In
Monday, 18th May 2020 10:35
Town boss Paul Lambert believes the Premier League should give financial help to League One so its 2019/20 season can he played to a conclusion and has called for improved leadership as football tries to find solutions to the issues created by the coronavirus crisis.
The Blues are among six clubs to have collectively called on the EFL to play League One to the end behind closed doors, however, it’s expected that they will find themselves in the minority and the division will be brought to an early end this week with placings decided via points per game or weighted points per game.
League One clubs are meeting via conference call again this morning to decide whether the season will be curtailed or be resumed in June. Currently EFL clubs have been told that their players aren't to return for training until May 25th.
Speaking on 5 Live Breakfast, Lambert was asked why Town and the other five clubs - Peterborough, Oxford, Fleetwood, Sunderland and Portsmouth - are pushing for the campaign to be completed.
“I think the ones that have got a chance, they’re always going to do that, it doesn’t matter in the scheme of things, the same in the Premier League, the ones that are down the bottom don’t want to be relegated,” he said.
“I guess they’ll want the season to finish, the ones at the top want it to end because they’ve got a good chance of getting into the Champions League or win the league in Liverpool’s case. Everybody’s going to have their own agenda.
“I think the biggest thing for me is that you can’t be given a training date if you don’t have a match date. That’s unrealistic and somebody’s got to make a decision, that’s the frustrating thing for everybody.
“There’s got to be a decision made where somebody just says ‘Right, this is what you’re doing, you’re playing this day, you’ve got to come back that day’ but only on the assumption the testing is 100 per cent clear.
“I think that’s the big thing for me. I saw the Bundesliga on Saturday, the Germans have gone to great lengths to try and protect everybody. Have Leagues One and Two got their resources? They’ve not. And that’s where the Premier League should step in.
“We’re all one organisation, we’re all [under] one governing body, they should help without a doubt they should help the lower leagues.”
Derby County owner Mel Morris recently claimed that the Premier League has as much as £1.5 billion in cash reserves.
Last month Premier League clubs agreed to advance £125 million to the EFL and National League but this was bringing forward solidarity payments, parachute payments and academy grants which would have been due later on down the line in any case.
While League Two clubs voted unanimously to bring their season to an early close on Friday, League One clubs failed to come to an agreement with the EFL subsequently asking for “innovative and creative solutions” to the impasse and Peterborough chairman Darragh MacAnthony proposing extending the play-offs to eight clubs as opposed to the usual four.
Even if that is the case, the Blues, who are currently 10th in the table, wouldn’t be involved if the final placings were based on either points per game scenario which would put them 11th.
“I’m not sure what the right solution is,” Lambert reflected. “I think they’re trying to find any way which they can to do it, whether the top 10 go and play against each other.
“You have the same questions to answer - how does the testing take place, there’ll be no fans in [the ground], I think everybody’s trying to come up with a solution to what’s right and wrong.
“But there’s no right and wrong answer to this for me, but what you want is some leadership. I think that’s the big thing. You want some leadership, for someone to say ‘You play this day, the testing will be 100 per cent correct’ and you’ll get on with it.”
Does he believe there has been a lack of leadership? “Absolutely, I think absolutely right. I think we need leadership, whether it’s the EFL or some [other] organisation to say that the games are going to get played or they’re not going to get played.
“And I think that’s frustrating for everybody. I know that’s frustrating for myself and the coaching staff at Ipswich, and the players and the supporters. Everybody’s at a loose end with the situation.”
The Bundesliga returned at the weekend but Lambert worries that Britain’s infection rate may currently be too high for British football to follow suit.
“I think you’ve got to remember, Germany’s got a different infection rate from us,” he said. “Their infections are way down, we’re sky high, so you can’t judge what the Germans have done to what the United Kingdom’s going to do, I think that’s important, first and foremost.
“The football side, the lengths they went to try and get their games on were extreme and they had to be to protect everybody. Whether we as a country are that advanced, looking at it I don’t think we are, I think we’re miles behind it and it’s going to take a long time for us to come back to normal.”
Asked about what he made of his old club Borussia Dortmund’s performance as they beat Schalke 4-0 on Saturday, he added: “The big thing for me, they looked a lot fitter than Schalke, they looked stronger, they looked fitter.
“That’s another dangerous game that everybody’s got to look at - how fit are the players? They need about five or six weeks normally to get up to speed. Not everybody can do it, everybody’s a different fitness level at that time, but Dortmund are a really good team.”
Quizzed on the situation in Scotland where Hearts could be relegated despite the season not being played to its conclusion, Lambert said there will be clubs both north of the border and in England who will have to accept unpalatable situations.
“I don’t there is any fair outcome in any sport here at the minute,” he said. “I think whatever decision the organisations make, good or bad, I think you just have to get on with it. And if Hearts get relegated, it happens.
“They’re a massive club up in Scotland but you have to get on with it. And I think that’s the big thing, and the same down in England. Whatever decision everybody makes, you have to get on with it, good or bad, you take it on the chin and try and bounce back the best you can the following year.
“I don’t think there’s any way whatsoever there’s going to be a right answer and a wrong answer to this."
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