Officials from Bramall Lane plan "sensible" rather than self-interested approach

Sheffield United have pledged to adopt a neutral approach when Premier League stakeholders meet to discuss how to plot a course through the coronavirus crisis.

Wednesday, 18th March 2020, 5:01 pm
Updated Wednesday, 18th March 2020, 6:10 pm

Representatives from Bramall Lane are scheduled to take part in tomorrow’s teleconference between top-flight teams and competition chiefs, which is expected to see the blanket postponement of fixtures imposed following Mikel Arteta’s positive test last week extended beyond its initial two week period.

With the break in games wreaking havoc with the fixture schedule, some top-flight clubs have proposed scrapping the season altogether; a move which would prevent Liverpool winning a first title since 1990 and remove the threat of relegation.

But United, who are chasing European qualification on two fronts after being promoted last term, have resolved to listen to the arguments set to be put forward and then consider them on their own merits rather than push any particular agenda. The decision comes after leading figures at two top-flight sides battling for survival publicly mooted a total abandonment.

“We’re not going there with any preconceived ideas,” one high-ranking individual at United confirmed. “We’ll be taking a broad view, taking in everything that is raised, and then reaching a position when all the information is out on the table. We believe that’s the most sensible way forward and the best thing to do.”

Speaking before UEFA moved this summer’s Euro 2020 tournament back 12 months - effectively creating a window for all domestic leagues across Europe affected by the health crisis to fulfil their match programmes - West Ham chief executive officer Karen Brady used her national newspaper column to call for the 2019/20 campaign to be scrapped, while Jesus Garcia Pitarch, Aston Villa’s sporting director, also suggested he was in favour of starting afresh later this year. Their comments provoked widespread derision because both clubs are threatened with demotion.

United’s CEO Steve Bettis is expected to represent United during the discussion, after taking part in last week’s emergency meeting after it emerged Arteta, whose Arsenal squad had been set to visit Bramall Lane in the FA Cup quarter-finals this weekend, had contracted Covid-19.

United are seventh in the table, five points behind fourth-placed Chelsea having played a game less than the Londoners.

Sheffield United's manager Chris Wilder and chief executive Steve Bettis are interviewed by The Star's James Shield following he club's promotion to the Premier League: Scott Merrylees

A statement, issued by UEFA after it agreed to reschedule it’s “flagship national team competition”, explained the switch was designed to protect the health of “all those involved in the game”, “avoid placing unnecessary pressure on national public services” and to “help all domestic competitions, currently on hold due to the Covid-19 emergency, to be completed.”

“All UEFA competitions and matches (including friendlies) for clubs and national teams for both men and women have been put on hold until further notice,” the statement continued.

Steve Bettis, Sheffield United's chief executive officer (R), took part in last week's Premier League video conference: Simon Bellis/Sportimage
Sheffield United's manager Chris Wilder and chief executive Steve Bettis (R): Scott Merrylees