Sheffield United manager issues a plea to his employers ahead of crucial Premier League summit as stance toughens

Chris Wilder, the Sheffield United manager, will urge his club’s representatives to resist any move to finish the season early when Premier League sides meet to discuss the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on the domestic game this week.
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Seventh in the table before the fixture scheduled was suspended, United have not played a game since the beginning of last month and have been told June could be the earliest they return to action.

Although the situation has created a series of financial challenges - with even Manchester United chief executive Ed Woodward admitting his side will be affected by the situation - PL members are facing a number of logistical ones too, with 92 matches remaining on the calendar.

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That has prompted some influential figures within the sport to argue it would be best to draw a line under the campaign and start afresh in August, providing the Government and its health advisors agree.

United have approached the last three PL summits with a “neutral stance”, but Wilder will ask them to adopt a more hardline approach if the proposal is raised again.

With Belgium and Holland both declaring an end to their campaigns, Wilder said: “I hope we don’t follow them.

“It came as a surprise and a show, how quickly everything happened, because we were preparing for a game at Newcastle and then suddenly we were in lockdown and we've been there ever since.

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“I made it clear at the time I didn’t want to be playing behind closed doors, because the passion of packed stadiums is something we all relish but that’s been taken away from us and rightly so, because football has gone down the list of priorities.”

Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire.Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire.
Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire.

Wilder, who now concedes spectators will be banned when competition eventually returns, added: “I’m a big believer in finishing the season. Let’s talk about finishing it off when it’s safe and healthy for everyone concerned. That's the route I think we should be looking to take. I still think it's far too early to be talking about anything else or doing anything else."