Former England boss Fabio Capello has lent weight to Ann Budge’s claims football is unlikely to return until July/early August at the earliest.
On Tuesday news emerged of UEFA’s commitment to complete all club competitions across Europe by June 30.
That sparked fierce debate as many had previously argued either for the respective leagues to be settled on the basis of pre-shutdown standings or even to be declared null and void.
But Hearts owner Budge – who had earlier stated she would consider legal action should the Edinburgh club be relegated from the Premiership with eight games remaining – soon made it clear she was not convinced.
In a statement defending the move to ask all staff, including players, to accept a 50% wage cut, she said it was likely the emergency shutdown would continue for several weeks AFTER the European body’s deadline to get all outstanding fixtures played.
Manager Daniel Stendel provided significant support by asking for his wages to be diverted to players and staff in need.
And Capello, currently in isolation with his family in Italy, the European country hardest hit by the coronavirus, has now backed Budge’s assessment of the crisis.
“My personal opinion is that this state of emergency will continue for some time,” said the 73-year-old.
“The date of April 3 set by the Italian government will certainly be prolonged. I would not be surprised if it got to summer.
“I believe that UEFA is delaying to understand the development of the situation.
“There will probably be other postponements and I do not exclude the possibility that it will be decided to definitively close the competitions.
“You can only move the outstanding fixtures back so far before you start getting too close to the start of the new season.
“And, of course, there has to be a break between the two.
“At the moment I am hearing that Serie A will restart, maybe even early in May but that seems difficult to imagine.
“More likely, as I say, is that the remaining fixtures will never be played but then how do you decide who is champion? Who gets relegated? Who qualifies for Europe?
“There are no rules and so many countries have the same issues. The situation for football is critical.”
It is, of course, not the most important issue.
“I am very worried about the coronavirus. It is a very difficult moment,” said Capello, who also managed Real Madrid, Milan, Juventus, Roma and Russia.
“I have already decided for several days to isolate myself at home with my wife. I have no contact with anyone, I don’t even go out to shop.
“I call the supermarket that does home delivery, I order them to bring the shopping to me on the landing and leave it there.
“I think the danger of Covid-19 was underestimated. Certainly at the start.
“I remember that the first few days I received a message from Damiano Tommasi (president of the Italian Footballers’ Association) in which he expressed his fear of an onset of contagion among the players.
“But we wanted to continue playing, first only in some areas with the fans, then behind closed doors. In the end we did what we had to do at the beginning, that is to block everything 100%.
“Now football must obviously go into the background, like all activities that are not strictly necessary.”
The Italian also has fears for the United Kingdom.
“I was coach of the English national ream and lived in the country for many years,” he said.
“I left many friends behind and receive daily updates by phone to inform me daily of their health and that of their family members.
“I followed cases with Jordan Pickford and Mason Mount (who both broke coronavirus self-isolating rules). They were truly irresponsible because they are public figures.
“We must all have a great sense of responsibility, towards ourselves and towards others. It is not a game and it is not time to play. Those who can must stay home.
“I fear that the danger is being underestimated in the UK. I hope the government decides to take serious and drastic action as soon as possible.”
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