Newcastle United manager Steve Bruce has revealed that those in charge of the club have been planning for an “inevitable” stoppage of fixtures “for the past four weeks,” just hours after the Premier League announced it will suspend play until at least April 3 due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Magpies players have been given individual training programs to perform during a two-week shutdown of the club’s training facilities. Bruce, speaking on behalf of his entire coaching staff, is thankful that the PL came to the correct decision after a period of uncertainty — quotes from the Guardian:
“We’ve been talking about what would happen if everything was suspended for the past four weeks now. I don’t think there’s any alternative. My staff and I were sitting watching the TV yesterday and the news [games were then going ahead] came through from the prime minister, and we all thought: ‘Okay.’
“We were saying, ‘Well, what happens if one of the players or a manager gets it?’ And then lo and behold, Mikel Arteta did. It was inevitable, wasn’t it?”
“The plan is for the players to go away with their own individual programs. We’ve set the personal plans in place and they’re ready to go. It’s to take them away from here, because we’re on top of each other. There’s 70 or 80 of us in a confined space, so if someone got infected and then came back here that clearly would be an issue — and coronavirus is so contagious.”
While Bruce doesn’t yet know whether or not his players will be permitted to leave their homes in the UK should the hail from a foreign nation, he does know one thing with absolute certainty: it was always going to be all or nothing with regards to playing games in front of packed stadiums, or not playing them at all.
“I’ll have a chat with our doctor. Whether you stay here or go abroad, you run a risk of contracting it. I’ll be guided by the individual medical advice.”
“You play football to be in front of fans. There would have been 52,000 at St James’ Park for Sheffield United on Saturday, and the game is all about those supporters. The idea of playing in front of nobody doesn’t appeal at all. For me, you’ve got to suspend it and wait until you get the all clear.
“Thousands could die from this disease. People’s welfare is more important than a football match, a season or a tournament.