Roy Hodgson is ready to risk coronavirus to return to the Crystal Palace bench because he “lives for football”, according to his chairman Steve Parish.
Government advice tells over-70s to “shield” themselves by self-isolating because of an increased vulnerability to the Covid-19 infection.
The former England manager will turn 73 in August. But if the Premier League re-starts next month, his boss Parish said Crystal Palace will take “extra special care” of the Croydon-born coach but revealed Hodgson is desperate to get back to work.
“You know Roy,” said Parish. “Roy probably wouldn't have stopped. He loves football. He understands that there are risks. We will make very sure that he understands the risks and of course, given what we know so far, we will need to take extra special care and we fully intend to,we will comply with any of the rules that there are."
“But Roy and (assistant) Ray (Lewington) are football people. They live for a training pitch and matchdays. They want to get back to it as soon as they can.”
And, according to Parish, do the Eagles players. And the Palace co-owner claimed footballers could be safer returning to work than hairdressers or construction workers.
“I have spoken to my captain (Luka Milivojevic),” he said. “I have spoken to all the player liaison guys and a I have spoken to one or two of the other players.
“They are all yes, we are ready to go. Perhaps they have not really considered what risks there might be. This will be outlined in his entirety to players in terms of that what we are putting in for their care to be sure we keep them and their families as safe as possible.
“Everybody will be going back into a work place. I genuinely believe from what I have seen that for footballers, we will be able to make the work place safer than any other work place that people go back to. Or at least as safe.
"Testing twice a week, checks up every time the players arrive. It will be very, very difficult to impossible for a player to contract this in training which means if they get it, likely they have brought it in from outside society.
Players will be tested positive under this regime. We will catch players who have contracted this disease in society and we will help them prevent the spread of this disease. We will be able to protect them from anyone they might come into contact with after that
“We have to work out how we can make it so infinitesimal the chances that a player is playing on the field with the disease to render the risk much, much lower than it would be for say someone working in a hairdressers or a construction site or all of those areas where they might not have the luxury of that level of observation and testing from full-time medical staff.”
Lockdown has also seen the coronacoaster ride charting the chances of the Premier League returning. With the defeaning silence from the Premier League, Brighton have played a PR blinder while players like Sergio Aguero and Manuel Lanzini have spoken up about their fears around Project Restart.
Now Parish is leading a Wilf Zaha-style pro-Project Restart counterattack by making clear that the Premier League should return for economic reasons IF it is safe to do so.
“I genuinely don't feel that people are thinking clearly about the ramifications if we don't play,” he said. "If we don't play, we are essentially throwing ourselves at the mercy of our customers. We will be in a position where fundamentally we are airlines from August.
"That's a doomsday scenario but I don't have any visibility on any income past August and I don't understand why anybody would pay us if we're saying we can't put the product on for them. I personally believe that in six to eight weeks time, it might give us all a lift.”
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