Sheffield United manager is thought to endorse interesting plan to help football cope with fixture chaos

Chris Wilder, the Sheffield United manager, is expected to petition his club to oppose any suggestion the season should be abandoned when Premier League clubs hold their latest meeting to discuss the problems caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Sunday, 29th March 2020, 11:00 am
Updated Sunday, 29th March 2020, 2:30 pm

Representatives from Bramall Lane are preparing to take part in a teleconference involving all the country’s leading 20 teams this week, when it is expected they will announce another extension to the fixture suspension imposed as part of the country’s response to the health crisis.

Although they recently made a commitment to try and finish the fixture programme - a decision endorsed by both the Football Association and the English Football League - some figures within the game are reportedly preparing to try and overturn that decision after growing concerned by the complications another delay would cause.

As The Star reported ahead of the last PL summit, when it was confirmed competition would not restart until April 30 at the earliest, United’s delegation decided not to enter the talks with any preconceived ideas about how best to proceed; preferring instead to listen to all the arguments before expressing their own view.

However, with his squad seventh in the table and preparing for an FA Cup quarter-final against Arsenal when the shutdown was announced, Wilder is determined not to see their efforts go to waste. Indeed, he has now relaxed his opposition to playing matches behind closed doors after previously insisting football is “nothing without the fans.”

Wilder is thought to endorse a series of proposals put forward by former Manchester United and England defender Gary Neville, designed to help football negotiate a way through the chaos caused by the spread of the respiratory disease which is thought to have claimed more than 30,000 lives worldwide.

They include condensing matches into a short time frame, shortening the duration of the 2020/21 campaign and opening the transfer window from May until the end of the next campaign to “provide agility.”

Wilder, who started his coaching career with Alfreton before spells in charge of Halifax, Oxford and Northampton, is also believed to advocate piecing together a financial rescue package to help non-league clubs cope with the loss of commercial and matchday revenues.

Sheffield United's manager Chris Wilder believes there is a way forward: LINDSEY PARNABY/AFP via Getty Images

United’s squad will continue to train from home this week, after the decision was taken to close the Steelphalt Academy following government advice to stop any unnecessary travel and social gatherings.