Preston North End are scheduled to be back in action on Saturday afternoon – but whether the game actually goes ahead or not remains to be seen.
Alex Neil is set to take his side down to Kenilworth Road to take on Luton Town, with Preston needing a victory after four defeats in the last five games.
However, the game actually taking place is still in doubt, as the world comes to term with the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe, with other leagues taking drastic measures.
Ligue 1 will play all games behind closed doors until April 15th, La Liga has been suspended for two weeks, the Bundesliga is adopting a behind closed doors policy, and both the MLS and Serie A have been suspended until further notice.
Yet in England, it’s been a bizarrely quiet response. As things stand, all games will go ahead as planned, with fans in attendance despite the threat of COVID-19 now rife.
Surely the English football authorities have to make a call soon, especially with three Leicester City players now being tested having shown symptoms of COVID-19.
Still, Preston boss Neil conducted his pre-match press conference today, and told Lancs Live that his ‘brutally honest’ view is that having games behind closed doors isn’t the right step.
Neil noted that he agrees with Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola on the matter, believing there is no point to having games if fans can’t attend, and Neil added that he would rather suspend the season than play behind closed doors, because fans will still congregate outside the stadium in packs – just as they did at Paris Saint-Germain v Borussia Dortmund last night.
“If I’m being brutally honest in terms of my own personal preferences, football is all about the fans and that’s what we do it for. I listened to Pep yesterday and I agreed with everything he said,” said Neil. “Everything is set up for the fans to come out, have their day, watch their team and cheer them on. I’m not a big advocate at all for behind closed door games – it’ll be surreal and very different, the feeling and momentum and everything about it will be very different. And as a home team, the advantage you would usually have won’t be there because you haven’t got your own support.
“I’ve played and managed in some behind closed door games in pre-season, if there’s nobody there you can hear the echo and it’s not a good atmosphere at all to play football in. If it needed to be dealt with and suspended, I would do that and hopefully get it at a later date. I think PSG did it, but 5000 of their fans meet outside and it defeats the point,” he added.