Arsene Wenger: Behind-closed-doors games will damage fooball long-term

The former Arsenal boss says fans should only be allowed into grounds when it is safe to do so

Arsene Wenger has put forward his proposal for a change to the offside law
Image: Arsene Wenger currently works as FIFA's Chief of Global Football Development

Arsene Wenger says that football behind closed doors is not a viable long-term solution but is the best way to finish the current season.

The former Arsenal boss, speaking on Bein Sports, believes that playing games without fans could damage football if it continues for too long.

"Will it survive long-term? Will it damage the show long-term without supporters? I am convinced of that," he said.

"But it can be a short-term solution, not a long-term one. You cannot imagine a whole season without any spectators. That's why I believe it a short-term solution.

"It is still the best possible way to get a verdict for the end of the season. It's better than any other decision."

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Schalke's sporting director Jochen Schneider says it's a 'nightmare' to play games without fans, but admits the best option available

The Bundesliga returned this weekend, becoming the first major European league to come back after suspension due to the coronavirus, with all games behind closed doors.

With the Premier League likely to do a similar thing if and when it returns, Wenger believes it is important to play without fans until it is safe to do so.

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He said: "We don't have the medication for people to go to the stadiums in mid-July. You have some examples in Italy where [fans at] games provoked a disaster.

"We can't be guided too much by financial reasons and take such a big gamble. We have to first make sure this is medically safe."

Haaland celebrates
Image: Erling Haaland celebrates his goal against Schalke on Saturday in front of an empty stadium

Wenger, who is FIFA's chief of global football development, was involved in the decision-making process that introduced five substitutes for the rest of the season.

It was brought in to help domestic leagues cope with fatigue and games being scheduled into a short space of time, and the Frenchman says he is intrigued to watch how it will be utilised in games.

"At FIFA, we proposed the five substitutions for one reason - because the schedule is congested. It's very difficult to play more games without more changes," said Wenger.

"I believe on the first game it's difficult to judge but, overall, it will be interesting watching over the next month how it will be used.

"I also think it's a good idea because some smaller teams wouldn't be able to play all their games if they played every three games. So for them to play with their best team in every game, it's a good decision.

"Looking at the games today, I don't think the teams are quite ready."

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