Premier League managers Pep Guardiola and Nuno Espirito Santo do not want games to be played in empty stadiums but understand the escalating situation with coronavirus across Europe.
Speaking on Tuesday the managers of Man City and Wolves both shared the same view that games should not take place behind-closed-doors in the coming weeks.
With several Champions League and Europa League games set to be played in empty stadiums over the next week, Wolves’ trip to Olympiacos in the UEFA Europa League is due to be played in an empty stadium in Greece on Thursday.
Reports state the Premier League club have asked for the game to be postponed as Olympiacos owner Evangelos Marinakis confirmed he has been diagnosed with coronavirus.
Asked by our partners Sky Sports if Wolves want to play the game in Greece, Santo confirmed they do not want to travel to Olympiacos but will if they have to.
“We have obligations. Me as a manager, I am an employee of the club and the club has UEFA and FIFA. If we have to go there we will go but we will not go accordingly. We don’t agree. We don’t agree,” Santo said.
Asked if he wants to take his Wolves team to play at Olympiacos, this was his response.
“No, no. Because things are developing, news is happening. Even Olympiacos, they are suffering their own problems, the president and all these things. I think it is time to really think, is there another option?” Santo said. “Because we are only contemplating, are we playing normally? That is not the case. Now we play behind-closed-doors. Is there another option? Can we stop? No tie has been played in the Europa League yet. It is something that is developing. Eventually it will happen in the Premier League. Until now we have not played behind-closed-doors. All of the other countries are suffering this situation, what is to say the UK will not have the same problem? Let’s think about it.”
Man United’s Europa League game at LASK in Austria will be played behind-closed-doors, while Chelsea’s UEFA Champions League game at Bayern Munich next week also seems likely to be played in an empty Allianz Arena as Bavaria, Germany has taken similar measures to Austria in banning large events.
Games in Serie A are postponed, matches in Spain’s La Liga will be played in empty stadiums until early April and that will also happen in France for Ligue 1 games, while plenty of other leagues across Europe are also impacted.
What does Pep Guardiola think about the current situation? He believes that Premier League games will be played in empty stadiums in the coming weeks.
“It’s happened already in Italy and in Spain – and I think it’s going to happen here. We have to ask is it worth playing football without the spectators? We do our job for the people. If the people cannot come to watch the games, there is no sense. We are going to follow the instructions from the governments, everybody all around the world is involved in that – and we’ll just follow what we have to do.”
Santo said he and Wolves will follow the directions from the government but he had similar sentiments to Guardiola.
“I understand the decision of playing behind-closed-doors but what is the point if we go back to what is the point of football? It is to entertain, playing behind-closed-doors doesn’t make sense,” Santo said. “This has nothing to do with football. It is a social situation. Everybody is worried. I think something has to be done. I think closing doors in stadiums is not the solution because it is not normal. We are pretending to live a normal life when things are not normal. The point I am trying to make is that, is there another solution for this?”
Santo’s solution was to stop the games now and then try to make them up once the situation improves.
With big tournaments coming up this summer, like EURO 2020, could they be moved to 2021 and the domestic leagues across Europe extended into June?
That is one option and considering that EURO 2020 will be spread across 12 countries in Europe this summer it could make sense if UEFA decides to go down that route.