Coronavirus: Wayne Rooney says footballers treated like 'guinea pigs' after postponement delay

Rooney proposes idea of ending season in September and starting following two campaigns in the winter; "As long as we know we're safe to play and it's a safe environment for spectators, we'll play"

Wayne Rooney in action for Derby
Image: Wayne Rooney says people's health and safety must come first

Wayne Rooney has criticised the time it took for football authorities to postpone matches due to the coronavirus pandemic, but says they made "the right call in the end".

The Premier League and EFL postponed all fixtures until April 4 and 3 respectively at the earliest due to the threat of the coronavirus while the FA Women's Super League and FA Women's Championship fixtures have also been postponed.

Those decisions came at an "emergency club meeting" on Friday after Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta and Chelsea midfielder Callum Hudson-Odoi had already confirmed they tested positive for coronavirus.

Writing in The Times, Rooney admits he and his Derby team-mates were "anxious" while waiting for updates at the training ground.

The former England striker also proposed a radical schedule shake-up which could see the current season being concluded in the summer, and the next two kicking off in winter-time as a result.

general view inside the empty stadium prior to the UEFA Champions League round of 16 second leg match between Liverpool FC and Atletico Madrid at Anfield on March 11, 2020 in Liverpool, United Kingdom 2:53
Sky Sports News' chief reporter Bryan Swanson explains the reasons behind the decision to suspend all domestic professional football in England until at least April 3.

"After the emergency meeting, at last the right decision was made," Rooney said. "Until then it almost felt like footballers in England were being treated like guinea pigs.

"The rest of sport - tennis, Formula One, rugby, golf, football in other countries - was closing down and we were being told to carry on.

Also See:

"At Derby County, we sat at training on Thursday waiting for Boris Johnson to speak. People were anxious. Thankfully football made the right call in the end. We had to put the season on hold. Some people won't be happy but I just think, in this case, football has to come second. It's a sport. It's just a sport.

0:35
Sky Sports' Phil Thompson believes a null and void season would not be fair, and fixtures should be completed if possible.

"If people's lives are at risk, that has to come first - regardless of whether you're going to win the league title, whether you're trying to get into Europe or whether you're going to get relegated or promoted.

Super 6: City to cruise past Burnley?

Super 6: City to cruise past Burnley?

FREE TO PLAY: Do not miss your chance to win £250k for free on Saturday. Entries by 3:00pm.

"We're happy to play until September if the season extends to then, if that's how it has to be. That's our job. As long as we know we're safe to play and it's a safe environment for spectators, we'll play.

"The next World Cup is in November and December 2022, so you could actually use this situation as an opportunity and say we're going to finish the 2019-20 season later this year, then prepare for 2022 by having the next two seasons starting in winter."

Nigel Pearson admits Watford need Liverpool to have an off day at Vicarage Road 1:25
Watford boss Nigel Pearson feels the UK Government has displayed a 'lack of leadership' in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Coronavirus - key sporting developments

Around Sky