Coronavirus: Simon Francis concerned over Premier League's plans to return

Premier League clubs due to meet on Friday to discuss next steps in handling the coronavirus crisis

Simon Francis
Image: Simon Francis believes 'health and safety' must come first

Bournemouth captain Simon Francis says he is concerned by the Premier League's plans to resume its 2019-20 season due to the risk of players spreading the coronavirus amid the pandemic.

English football was suspended indefinitely last month due to the outbreak, which has caused more than 26,000 deaths in Britain, and matches are likely to be held without supporters once the season resumes.

Premier League clubs will meet on Friday to discuss ways to finish the season but FIFA Medical Committee chairman Michel D'Hooghe believes football should not return until September 1 at the earliest.

The Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 seasons were cancelled in France on Tuesday, following a similar move by the Eredivisie in the Netherlands last week, and Francis believes 'health and safety' must come first.

Grounds in England will stay locked up until April 30 at the earliest
Image: Premier League clubs are due to meet on Friday to discuss next steps in handling the coronavirus crisis

"My head's saying that I would love to see football restart, to play the remaining games and finish the season; my heart is saying we shouldn't be putting football, or economics, before anyone's health and safety," Francis told The Times.

"We have three or four players who have family members with underlying health issues. One player is back in his home country with his partner, who just had a baby.

"Diego Rico is back in Spain with his family. Would they have to be quarantined when they returned? When would it be safe to see their families again?"

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Several Premier League clubs, including Bournemouth, have reopened their training grounds for individual sessions.

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Speaking on The Football Show, Gary Neville believes discussions over when football can return are currently being driven by economic reasons

"I understand how much of a boost the return of football would provide: I'm still a fan myself - to be able to watch a game on TV again would be amazing. But there's no doubt about the risks involved," the 35-year-old said.

"A friend's wife contracted the virus recently. She had no underlying health issues but was in a really bad way, bedridden for over a week.

"And that has really made me think. Footballers are healthy athletes, and the risks to us, statistically, are low, but the prospect of bringing the virus home to my family isn't something I want to think about."

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