There have been a variety of creative solutions for how the season is eventually going to be concluded in the Football League.
One that has been floated is the idea that the top eight teams in any of the Football League’s divisions could come together in one big super playoffs to decide promotion. This could potentially involve all the people required to complete these games being sequestered in a hotel for up to a month, to ensure as much as possible that the coronavirus is not spread.
However, Burton Albion chairman Ben Robinson isn’t sure that this would be a viable solution for clubs of their size, for various reasons, although he does recognise why the idea has been suggested.
“It doesn’t seem as though the idea of the top eight teams playing off is going to work,” he told the Totally Football League Show. “I don’t think the clubs would accept that, probably.
“It’s a tricky thing, isn’t it? You want to try and protect that integrity of promotion and relegation. You’ve got to look at the potential legal challenges. The clubs at the top of the Championship and what’s at stake for them – it’s tens of millions of pounds is at stake – how much money they’ve invested to try to achieve that goal of getting promotion to the promised land, the Premier League. If that’s if that’s taken away from them, obviously there’s a legal implication there.
“I think the question of having playoffs with the top eight clubs – the Football League just mooted it as an option. They were just thinking outside the box.
“The most important thing here is the well-being of individuals and families and their health. That’s our priority, and then beyond that, we’ll look to see if we can complete the season, because if we don’t, the financial impact is absolutely horrendous. So I think that’s the line they’re going along to see if they can achieve that.
“I think the question of the hotel – that was something came up for the Premier League, that everybody involved in the match day game needs to be isolated for a month to complete the remaining fixtures so they don’t have any contact with the outside world other than their coaches and the other players. And the only way to do this is to lock them into hotels. We couldn’t we couldn’t afford to lock our players away at a hotel, because the costs would be horrendous.”
Buton, like many clubs in this crisis, have been offering support to the public and authorities during the coronavirus crisis, and Robinson emphasised how much clubs have a responsibility to their local communities.
“here should be more spoken about the role that football clubs play in their community, and how much support they give. We’ve got a Burton Albion Community Trust, which provides employment for nearly 50 people, delivers over 50 projects a year, engages with 7,000 people each week in the community.
“They’re helping people with mental illness problems, people with dementia, supporting families where there’s a family member that’s suffering with cancer. We’ve we’ve organized quite a few prostate cancer checks – I think over the last four years, there’s been over a thousand men screened for this disease, in conjunction with the local hospital.
“What we’ve been doing since the lockdown, we’ve provided a room for the midwives to use if pregnant ladies couldn’t go to the GP or to the hospital. They came in and obviously did a deep clean and they’re using that facility.
“Then the county council asked us if we would help with delivering food parcels. I think in the county there are 22,000 vulnerable people who need to seek help from this food parcel scheme. So the Pirelli Stadium has been a hub for that. That’s been extended now to people and families in lockdown who can’t get out to shop. We’ve formed an arrangement with two supermarkets, so people phone up, book a grocery order, pay for it, and then volunteers and staff go pick up deliveries and take them to their homes and leave them on the doorstep
“And more recently, over the past 10 days or so, we’ve provided the carpark site and one of the buildings for testing – a drive through testing facility, which I gather when it gets rolled out, will go beyond the NHS and essential workers to, I think, the public eventually and probably become a 24/7 operation.”
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