Ipswich Town games ‘set to be played behind closed doors to help combat coronavirus... with confirmation possible today’

Ipswich Town could play their games behind closed doors in a bid to help stop the spread of coronavi

Ipswich Town could play their games behind closed doors in a bid to help stop the spread of coronavirus. Picture: PA - Credit: PA

Ipswich Town could play their games behind closed doors for the remainder of the season as the bid to combat the spread of coronavirus enters the next phase.

Ipswich Town may live stream games free for fans if the coronavirus forces matches to be played behi

Ipswich Town may live stream games free for fans if the coronavirus forces matches to be played behind closed doors.. Picture: STEVE WALLER - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

According to The Times, the plan to play all games behind closed doors could be implemented later today (Thursday) as the UK ups its response to the spread of the virus, with the government reportedly set to shift to the 'delay' phase today once the number of cases in the UK tops 500. The number was at 460 on Wednesday night.

The plan will reportedly see all games in the top four divisions of English football played without crowds, with that option said to be preferred to either postponing games or calling an end to the campaign early.

The plan is said to have been discussed by Premier League, EFL and FA officials in recent days and is viewed as a way of ensuring the season is completed on schedule.

It's said ticket holders will be given access to streams so they can still view the games in the event of matches being played without supporters, with matches not available to watch in pubs or other public places in order to limit gatherings.

MORE: Everything we know so far about coronavirus in Suffolk

The Premier League clash between Manchester City and Arsenal, scheduled for Wednesday night, became the first English game to be postponed due to coronavirus, due to the fact a number of Gunners players were self-isolating having come into contact with Olympiacos and Nottingham Forest owner Evangelos Marinakis, who has tested positive.

All Italian football has been suspended until at least the start of April, with games played behind closed doors in recent weeks, while Juventus player Daniele Rugani testing positive.

Champions League and Europa League games have been played behind closed doors, as have domestic games in France and Germany in response to the spread of the virus.

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In the United States, all NBA games have been postponed after Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert tested positive, while Six Nations rugby, the World Indoor Athletics Championships and a host of other sports have all been impacted.

At Ipswich, players have not been shaking hands at the club's training ground in recent days, while players have also been advised not to sign autographs for or take selfies with supporters to help combat the spread.

A club spokesperson told the EADT and Ipswich Star: 'We're taking guidance from the EFL and their instruction at the moment is that it should be business as usual.

'The club has held an internal meeting to discuss the way forward if the situation changes. We have discussed the potential to bring in a mobile sanitiser unit, as was used at Twickenham last weekend, for the game against Portsmouth. We've also looked at the possibility of streaming matches free of charge to supporters should we be instructed to play behind closed doors.

'Like all businesses, an internal e-mail has been sent around with guidelines about best practice regarding hygiene and what the remote working procedure would be for each department if required.'

The Blues have eight games remaining this season, with five of those at Portman Road.

Next up is a trip to Bristol Rovers on Saturday.

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