(Reuters) - Professional Footballers’ Association chief executive Gordon Taylor said clubs should discuss the idea of playing halves of less than 45 minutes when matches resume after the coronavirus suspension, to help players manage their workload.
Soccer in England has been stalled since mid-March due to the novel coronavirus, which has infected more than 190,000 people in the United Kingdom and killed 28,734.
All 20 Premier League clubs held a conference call last week in which they discussed plans for a resumption of training this month followed by a possible return to action in June, but several players have expressed concerns.
“They’re not stupid. They would have to be satisfied that it’s safe to return, and it’s their choice,” Taylor told the BBC.
He said steps to reduce player fatigue in a potentially cramped schedule should also be considered.
“We know what propositions have been put, what ideas have been put ... the possibility of having more substitutes, games possibly not being the full 45 minutes each way, with talks of neutral stadiums.
“Ideally, you want to keep the integrity of the competition, and of course, that was about playing home and away and having the same squad of players as before it was suspended.
“So there’s lots of points to be made, but above all, can the seasons be completed and can they be completed safely?”
English Football League chairman Rick Parry said that there had not yet been discussion of having reduced halves but that he was open to new ideas.
“I guess the aim will be to reduce the strain on players. I don’t think we should be ruling out any creative ideas considering the challenges we face,” Parry told the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee.
“We may end up with a compressed fixture schedule... Perhaps the thinking is that this might help players with recovery and maybe reduce the likelihood of injury. We haven’t studied it.”
Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Hugh Lawson