‘Players won’t risk careers’ – more than 1,000 EFL players set to be out of contract before season can be finished
- Credit: Archant
Players will not risk their careers to play if the current EFL season is forced to run beyond June 30, it has been warned.
The EFL campaign has been suspended since March 14 due to the coronavirus crisis, with no date yet agreed for play to restart - though early June is believed to be the target. EFL chairman Rick Parry said last week that it will take 56 days to complete the season, including play-off matches, almost certainly behind closed doors.
That timeframe would clearly push the season past June 30 - the date on which most players’ contracts expire. Indeed, more than 1,000 EFL players are expected to be out of contract past that date.
In response to that, Colchester have already decided not to re-sign their out of contract players, including ex-Ipswich Town star Frank Nouble.
At Ipswich Town, players including Cole Skuse, Andre Dozzell, Gwion Edwards, Danny Rowe, James Wilson and Will Keane are all out of contract at the end of June.
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And Stevenage chairman Phil Wallace says he can’t see how the season could be finished under current circumstances.
He told the PA news agency: “All you can do is have an aim, we’d love to finish the season if we are able to in a safe manner. How we are going to do that is beyond me, given the timeframe with players out of contract.
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“On July 1, Stevenage have two contracted players. What is supposed to happen then?
“You have some people say ‘surely they will play in July’ - no they won’t. Why would they risk their careers if they are not on contract?”
“If someone else is paying for it they can extend them for as long as they want, I’m not paying for it.
“I will make the commercial decisions in the best interest of our football club commercial survival.
“It’s probably the best part of £250,000 you’re talking about (to pay players for an extra two months). You know how long I can feed doctors and nurses and the old people in my community with that?”
Wallace added that returning to action - even behind closed doors - could be ‘irresponsible.’
He said: “If you start giving coronavirus to someone and exposing players to it that’s irresponsible.
“We keep talking about games behind-closed-doors but if social distancing is in place and it’s unsafe to put people in a stadium how is it safe to put people on grass and have a contact sport?
“Every club has players with asthma, players’ wives with asthma, pregnant partners - some live with their mum and dad. If you are going to put people together in a contact sport you have to know no-one has got coronavirus.”
Wallace also believes clubs are powerless to determine when they will return.
“It’s got nothing to do with our league position, events - in this case the virus - will make this decision,” he said.
“It won’t be the EFL, it won’t be the FA or the clubs, it’ll be the virus and the state of play at the time.
“Nobody knows, the question is impossible to answer. This will not be decided by people.”