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Coronavirus Kent: The 2019/20 season could be completed behind closed doors and Gillingham chairman Paul Scally would back that idea

Gillingham boss Steve Evans is willing to play without fans if it means the season can be finished and the chairman backs the idea too.

Games may have to be played behind closed doors, at least early on, when football eventually resumes.

How will the season end? One idea could be to finish it behind closed doors
How will the season end? One idea could be to finish it behind closed doors

On Friday the EFL said that “difficult decisions would have to be made” and that could include playing without fans. Most of non-league football, meanwhile have already called the season off.

“We need to do whatever we can to get the season done,” said the Scottish boss, who has been calling season ticket holders over the weekend for a chat.

“We need to get the season finished, in fairness to everyone who has invested lots of money, not just that, in fairness to every player and for the integrity of the league.

“It might mean closed door games and it might mean two or three games a week but the one things the bodies will want to do is get this done.”

The professional game is currently suspended until the end of April, at the earliest.

Playing behind closed doors could lead to clubs facing calls from fans for refunds, but games can now easily be watched online, with many already using the ifollow subscription service.

The Gills have nine games left of their season and are in with a chance of making the play-offs, albeit an outside one.

Mr Scally offered his opinion on what should be done to get the season finished and said: “My real hope is that we start playing behind closed doors in May or June.

“If we can finish the competition behind closed doors at least we will have some clarity on positional status.”

The Premier League and the EFL are keen to finish the current campaign but the government briefing on Sunday suggested it may be six months before life in England returns to some sort of normality.

What could complicate things in the professional game is that many players are contracted until June 30.

Scrapping the play-offs would give extra breathing space at the end of the season but Evans is confident there is time for those too.

He said: “If we start getting towards the end of May I can see this being Saturday-Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday because they will have deadlines they want to hit, with contractual reasons and everything that come into it.

“With three games a week, we could be done in three weeks and then into the playoffs. If it is three a week, nobody will be able to pick a result after the first week, but that might just help us.

“We are playing a bit of catch-up, teams that are up there won’t want it to happen, they won’t be shoving their arm in the air to vote for it, but there has to be a solution to finishing the season within the right time scales.

“It can’t run into August/September, that would be time to start again and it would be terrible, considering how much has gone over the first eight months.”

On suggestions of scrapping the play-offs, he said: “I don’t think that would be very fair. In our league would you judge the team that finishes at the top end of the play offs gets promoted? I am not sure that is right.

“We know how the play-offs work, they can work very quickly, it could be two neutral venues, straight into a final, simple, it could be the team finishing higher having home advantage over fifth and sixth place, a one off game and go to Wembley the following week.

“Wembley can host games in the week, I know it could be a problem for supporters, but I think people would rather play a midweek night.

“There is wider issues if it goes beyond June, because of contracts. What if you are a player who is coming out of contract and you know you are going somewhere else on a lot more money, you are not going to want to play, are you? That is just human nature.

“There are a lot of discussions to take place but I will let the authorities decide and then we have to respect it. The administrators at the Football Association and the EFL and Premier League, they will want to get this right 100% and a lot of people who I have a lot of respect for and the highest integrity in there. They will make the decision that is right and fair for every team in the leagues.”

The EFL, the Premier League and the Professional Footballers’ Association are due to meet again this week “with a view to formulating a joint plan to deal with the difficult circumstances facing the leagues, their clubs, players, staff and fans,” according to Friday’s statement.

Did you take part in the Gills Friday night quiz? It's not too late if you missed it.


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