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Juergen Klopp, Pep Guardiola not keen on closed-door games

Liverpool manager unsure if that helps to prevent the spread of coronavirus

Juergen Klopp said on Tuesday that he was unsure whether closing stadiums would help tackle the coronavirus as Pep Guardiola admitted he did not like the idea of matches being played in empty stadiums.

Guardiola's Manchester City became the first team to have an English Premier League fixture affected by the virus.

Their clash with Arsenal, scheduled for this morning (Singapore time), was postponed after players from the London club were put into quarantine, reported AFP.

Arsenal said players and four staff had been isolated at their homes after coming into contact with the owner of Greek club Olympiakos, Evangelos Marinakis, who has since tested positive for Covid-19.

"Some things are more important than football, we realise that in this moment," Liverpool boss Klopp said ahead of his side's Champions League last-16, second-leg clash with Atletico Madrid this morning.

"I don't know enough about how much it would help with the football games.

"The problem with football games is if you are not at the stadium, you are in closed rooms watching, maybe together.

"I'm not sure what is better in this case."

No EPL fixture has been played behind closed doors due to the virus, but that prospect looks increasingly likely with Italy suspending Serie A fixtures while La Liga, Bundesliga and Ligue 1 matches are scheduled to be played in empty stadiums.

After the EPL's first postponement, former England striker and BBC pundit Gary Lineker tweeted: "Can't help feeling like it's the beginning of the end of the football season.

"Despite the words of the late Bill Shankly, football is not more serious than life and death."

Players' collectives the Professional Footballers' Association and Fifpro both released statements yesterday, with the latter saying: "Footballers are concerned about themselves, their families and friends being exposed to the coronavirus.

"For players, their exposure could come during travel, training and match days."

City boss Guardiola, whose side are due to host Real Madrid in the Champions League next week, does not want a prolonged period of games without fans.

He said: "We are here for the people. If it's just one or two games, OK, but not longer.


"We play for them and if they cannot be there, then there is no sense. I wouldn't love it.

"But if Uefa or the government say we have to play without spectators, we will do it.

"Health is the most important thing and we have to take care of the situation."

Guardiola's sentiments were echoed in France as the League Cup final was postponed yesterday, after both Paris Saint-Germain and Lyon said they did not want to play the showpiece in an empty stadium, reported L'Equipe and Le Parisien.

Meanwhile, Manchester United legend and Salford City part-owner Gary Neville warned of the financial repercussions for lower league clubs if matches are played behind closed doors.

He tweeted: "I do not support matches played behind closed doors.

"If it's necessary to shut down stadiums, associations must find a way of delaying the season and playing the games when it is safe to do so, to protect the revenues for clubs that require this income to survive.

"For league clubs that can't afford this disruption, money is everything! (Delaying the fixtures) keeps people safe and protects the revenue the clubs need.

"Playing behind closed doors is not an option in my opinion. Some clubs would require short-term loans that could be repaid when the games do get played."

United forward Marcus Rashford also spoke out on the issue, tweeting: "Football is the fans...period. But the safety and well-being of our fans has to come first. Without you, we're nothing."