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Reports that Premier League clubs discussed pausing the season because of a rise in coronavirus cases are “complete nonsense”, says West Ham vice-chairman Karren Brady.
The Premier League already has strict health and safety measures in place but that has not been able to prevent an increase in positive cases at clubs, with three matches having to be called off last month.
With teams playing so many matches within a short space of time there are fears the virus could spread rapidly between clubs,sparkingrumours in the media that a possible ‘circuit breaker’ - pausing the season for a few weeks in order to bring the virus back under control - could be introduced.
The Premier League has already said it has no plans to pause the season and Brady insistsno such proposal has ever been discussed.
"I was confused this week when I read that Premier League clubs were considering a two-week 'circuit breaker'in the season over fears of Covid-19 outbreaks causing chaos,” she wrote in the Sun.
“It was complete nonsense. It has never been discussed or been raised by any club in any of our multiple Premier League meetings and there are no plans to discuss it.
“Our fixture list is already congested and our priority is to finish the season as long as it is safe to do so. And we all think it is safe to do so.
“All clubs have excellent Covid-19 protocols which allow us play our games behind-closed-doors — and our protocols continue to have the full backing of government.
“Some fixtures have been postponed but this is mainly due to the fact that Public Health England are closing down training grounds, which means that while clubs still havethe required 14 players to complete the fixture, they have nowhere to meet, train and prepare for the fixture.
“And that’s simply unfair and wrong so, quite rightly, the Premier League have suspended the game, a decision I fully support.”
Brady also dismissed suggestions thatPremier League clubs who have rejected the return of thefive substitutes rule areputting players’ welfare at risk.
Five substitutes were allowed during the summer restart but a proposal to reintroduceit this campaign has been voted down three times.
That has frustrated a number of Premier League managers, including Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp, who feels it is putting an unfair burden in players.
West Ham are reportedly one of the clubs who voted against the proposal - but Brady denies itis putting the players' health at risk.
“Those against changing the rules midway through a season were not unconcerned about player welfare, which has been suggested, rather unkindly, and every club who voted against took grave exception to the accusation,” she added.
“Our players are our most important concern, their welfare is our absolute priority. Which is why we voted in favour of increasing seven named subs on the bench to nine named subs.
“The number wasmoved to five as an emergency measure when spectator-less football was introduced after the lockdown and no one knew where the pandemic was going. Then an accident of nature became a green flag to permanence.