Steve Bruce has called for a Festival of Football when matches resume, with games played every day for a month, in a bid to ensure this season ends before the next one starts.
But the Newcastle United manager – the first Premier League boss to speak since the country was forced into lockdown by the Coronavirus pandemic – has warned players must not be rushed back into training before it is safe to do so just because the country needs a sporting distraction.
Bruce is wary of the growing pressure on the Premier League to return as quickly as possible and claimed other managers are also concerned about the health implications of going back into the training ground prematurely.
“We have to try and get this season finished, whatever that takes,” said Bruce. “Everybody wants that. But we must also remember that the health and safety of players and staff is far more important than football. We should not return to training until it is absolutely safe to do so.
“I am a little wary of it being rushed. At the moment, at Newcastle, we have a plan in place to return in the middle of next month, but we still have no idea if that will be possible. And if isn’t, because there is a chance players and staff, and therefore their families, could become infected, we need to delay it again.
“I know people miss football, it’s only been two weeks, I know I am and all the managers I speak to say the same thing, but this is not about football.
“This is a crisis the whole country is going through, nobody could have anticipated the impact it would have. The most important is that as many lives are saved as possible. Football does not matter when you think about it like that. For me, that has got to be the priority.”
But, when football does return, Bruce has a sensible idea to ensure this campaign can be finished before the new one starts.
“We can have a Festival of Football month, games every day, teams playing two or three games a week,” he explained. “It’s not ideal, but if we can play 10 to 15 games in December and the start of January, we can do it to get this season finished.
“It probably means the start of next season will be delayed, we’ll probably have to scrap one of the cup competitions and do without a winter break, but it can be done. Whatever, however, we will find a way.”