Watford chairman ‘uncomfortable’ with resuming league if it burdens the NHS

A woman holds up signs for more protection for health workers outside St Thomas’ Hospital in London earlier this month. (AP pic)

WATFORD: The Premier League must not rush to restart its season and has to ensure there is no additional strain on the National Health Service (NHS), Watford chairman Scott Duxbury said.

Professional football in England was suspended indefinitely last month because of the flu-like virus that has killed more than 21,000 people in Britain.

The UK government’s cabinet minister responsible for sport has been in talks with the league over a possible resumption in the near future but Duxbury said any decision must be taken keeping the NHS workload in mind.

“I feel uncomfortable at this stage talking about football as a narrative with there being stresses on the NHS and that has to be a priority,” Duxbury told a news conference.

“Do I want to resume football? Absolutely … I’ll be led by the government. If they say it’s safe and we’re not going to put pressure on the NHS, then fantastic. But I think we have to be led to make sure that it is safe and that we are not rushing.”

The club has opened their doors to the Watford General Hospital and are offering beds, food and training areas to support NHS staff at Vicarage Road.

“I feel truly privileged to help and assist the hospital and it’s a real demonstration of the quality of staff that we have at this club,” Duxbury added.

Premier League clubs will hold a conference call on Friday to discuss options for finishing the season but a restart is not expected until June at the earliest.

Watford were 17th in the league with 27 points when the season was suspended.