April 28, 2020 / 6:03 AM / a month ago

Watford chairman says league resumption should not burden NHS

(Reuters) - The Premier League must not rush to re-start its season and has to ensure there is no additional strain on the National Health Service (NHS), Watford chairman Scott Duxbury said.

Professional soccer in England was suspended indefinitely last month because of the flu-like virus that has killed more than 21,000 people in Britain.

The UK government’s cabinet minister responsible for sport has been in talks with the league over a possible resumption in the near future but Duxbury said any decision must be taken keeping the NHS workload in mind.

“I feel uncomfortable at this stage talking about football as a narrative with there being stresses on the NHS and that has to be a priority,” Duxbury told a news conference.

“Do I want to resume football? Absolutely... I’ll be led by the government. If they say it’s safe and we’re not going to put pressure on the NHS, then fantastic. But I think we have to be led to make sure that it is safe and that we are not rushing.”

The club has opened their doors to the Watford General Hospital and are offering beds, food and training areas to support NHS staff at Vicarage Road.

“I feel truly privileged to help and assist the hospital and it’s a real demonstration of the quality of staff that we have at this club,” Duxbury added.

Premier League clubs will hold a conference call on Friday to discuss options for finishing the season but a re-start is not expected until June at the earliest.

Watford were 17th in the league with 27 points when the season was suspended.

Reporting by Arvind Sriram in Bengaluru; Editing by Michael Perry

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