No solution to the Premier League season is perfect - Brighton CEO

There is no ideal solution for ending the Premier League campaign, says Paul Barber, who stressed the importance of protecting next season.

Brighton & Hove Albion CEO Paul Barber: "We want all the clubs to survive this crisis and we have to be mindful that every decision we take has a ripple-down effect."   -  Getty Images

Brighton and Hove Albion CEO Paul Barber says there is no perfect solution for completing the Premier League season and the next campaign cannot be hindered.

Professional football in United Kingdom has been suspended indefinitely amid the coronavirus pandemic, with no plans in place on how to finish the remaining 2019-20 fixtures. While clubs remain in talks as to how to proceed, Barber has conceded all options are being assessed, though none are likely to prove satisfactory for all parties.

"We've all got a degree of self-interest when it comes to our different situations," Barber told Sky Sports.

"Liverpool are very keen to play out the season because they've got a chance of winning the Premier League title, so it's totally understandable. Other teams have a chance of Champions League or Europa League qualification and we're battling relegation.

'Imperfect'

"I was asked a question, 'Is it possible to end the season and have Liverpool as champions, nobody relegated and the top two in the Championship coming up?' I said, 'Any idea in a crisis is a potentially good idea.'

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"Whether it's fair or right is a very big and debatable point. The problem we have is whatever happens, the ending to the season is going to be imperfect.

"We're either going to finish the season behind closed doors, which is imperfect because the fans want to be there and we don't want an artificiality for those games, or we're going to finish the season with a massive delay which brings other issues to contend with, or we're not going to finish at all, in which case there has to be some kind of formula for how the season ends.

"Our priority remains to try and finish the season when it's safe to do so but 500, 600 people a day are losing their lives and it doesn't feel right to be pushing to play football again."

In a spot

Barber outlined the difficulties of changing plans for next season, pointing out the Premier League's responsibility to help protect lower league clubs. He said: "Our priority is to finish the season when it's safe to do so but the second priority is we don't want next season impacted, so there will come a point where we will have to make a call.

In this picture taken on April 18, a new coronavirus testing site for NHS staff is prepared at the Amex Stadium. - GETTY IMAGES

 

"Obviously next season you've got the Euros bookending it, so the ability to be flexible is constrained by a major international competition. 

"The problem with changing things next season is of course the income levels of the FA Cup and the EFL Cup because they are revenues which then get distributed throughout the rest of the game.

"We want all the clubs to survive this crisis and we have to be mindful that every decision we take has a ripple-down effect."

Brighton has opened the Amex Stadium as a COVID-19 testing centre for the NHS, and Barber emphasised the importance of prioritising frontline workers during the crisis. "Whatever we want to do, we have to be totally driven by what the government tell us," Barber said.

"At the moment our priority has to be to keep people safe, protecting the NHS and its frontline workers, make sure that we prioritise those but also make sure that if it's safe to do so we can help give the country a bit of a lift by getting football back on."