Project Restart: No-one is suggesting we will play now, says Saints chief executive

Martin Semmens
Martin Semmens says the government's review of the lockdown restrictions on 7 May will be key to what football decides to do next

Southampton's chief executive says it would not be appropriate for the Premier League to plan for an immediate return and insists that recent talks have focused on long-term strategies designed to protect clubs.

At a Premier League video conference on Friday, clubs reiterated a commitment to resuming the season "when safe and appropriate to do so".

"No-one is talking about playing now, it's not appropriate now, no-one is suggesting we will play now," Martin Semmens told BBC Radio Solent.

"But what we must do is plan for how we will bring our business back, otherwise there will be no business and there will be no football club."

The Premier League will need up to 40,000 tests for players and staff if plans to play the 92 outstanding games behind closed doors are pursued.

Neutral venues will be the only way to complete the season, the Premier League clubs were also told.

The Premier League has been suspended since 13 March but all clubs remain committed to playing the remaining fixtures of 2019-20 and there was no discussion at the meeting about voiding the season.

"Everybody wants to know where we are going and when we are going to play, but I think the important thing to stress before we get into the processes is that in reality it is not a decision that Southampton Football Club is making and in a lot of ways not really one that the Premier League make on their own," added Semmens.

Project Restart: Glenn Murray says teams 'put under pressure' to return to football

"It's a government decision and that relationship with the government and the important and qualified people there is really what is key.

"The government make the decision on when we go back to training and when we go back to playing, and I think they are now in a position, and I think they have been openly clear about that, that they feel we're over the initial peak of the virus and therefore they can begin to talk about getting us all back to work when we can."

There will be another meeting of Premier League clubs following the government's review of the lockdown restrictions on 7 May.

Semmens says the government review will be a "key driver of the decision we make", but added: "We're not talking about playing games tomorrow or right away, we're talking about playing games in the future.

"What the government want, I believe, is for our country to return to its glorious best or as close to it as we can as soon as possible when it is safe to do so.

"Every business out there, every business owner, everybody working wants to get back to work when it's safe because they need to do that, and we're no different.

"Our business model has been turned upside down in one day and we have to plan as a club, as a city, as a community and also as the Premier League, to make sure that when it is appropriate and when people are safe and when we feel it is the right time and the government says it is the right time, we can go back."

Top Stories