Coronavirus: Premier League and EFL restart rethink needed if crowds turn up for games, says police chief

The UK’s most senior police officer for football has told Sky Sports News that if restarting the football season saw officers having to disperse crowds from stadiums, it would mean a rethink of playing football was needed.

Deputy Chief Constable Mark Roberts confirmed there has been “really good and responsible dialogue” with the Premier League, EFL, FA and Government over proposals to restarting the season.

The use of neutral venues would be preferable to every club using their own ground for home fixtures as it would be easier to keep fewer venues sterile in accordance with public health guidance during the lockdown period, and ease pressure on valuable police and emergency service resources which might be needed elsewhere.

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Roberts said: “If we get to a situation where we have large numbers of police needed to disperse fans at a venue, you don’t need the police to tell you it’s not working. It will be obvious.”

He added: “It’s not for the police to determine whether football starts or stops, public health comes first and will determine that. It won’t be police wagging the finger… If we are deployed more and more officers are needed to get an event off we might have to look at it.”

“I recognise that football plays a massive part in the life of many up and down the country and to the economy as well.

“I also recognise that it’s better to get games on than none, but a second spike (in coronavirus deaths and positive tests) and we would need to reconsider.”

Discussions with all football stakeholders continue, but when asked if it was easier and better to cancel the football season now, Roberts said: “This is all about choices, yes if you cancel the season it’s a lot easier.

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