Coronavirus outbreaks make it ‘morally wrong’ to continue playing, says Steve Bruce


Spread the love

Jamaal Lascelles
Steve Bruce said Jamaal Lascelles (right) was back in contention after suffering long-term effects of coronavirus

Newcastle boss Steve Bruce says it is “morally wrong” for football to continue amid increasing coronavirus outbreaks at clubs.

The Magpies were the first team to have a Premier League match postponed this season, but more than 60 games in England have been called off.

Aston Villa and Derby are also having to field U23 teams in the FA Cup.

“Financially its right to play on, but for me, morally, it’s probably wrong,” said Bruce.

“I understand people want to see a game of football but we are just as vulnerable as everybody else.

“The speed which it hit our club within hours of each other, it was quite incredible how it rips through you. It’s difficult to contain and stop and it leaves people sick.”

Newcastle captain Jamaal Lascelles and winger Allan Saint-Maximin have both been suffering with the virus for about six weeks, and Bruce said one of his staff was almost hospitalised.

His team, who face a trip to holders Arsenal in the FA Cup third round on Saturday, had their game at Aston Villa postponed in December because of a sharp rise in cases at the North East club.

Their training ground was also closed for more than a week as they tried to contain the virus.

Villa, who host Liverpool in the FA Cup on Friday, have now also had to shut down their training ground and will field a side made up mainly from their under-23 set-up, while Derby County’s first-team squad, including manager Wayne Rooney, will miss their FA Cup tie at Chorley on Saturday because of an outbreak.

Bruce, who will welcome back defender Lascelles into his squad for the game at Arsenal, believes ties should be postponed instead of going ahead with weakened teams.

“It devalues the FA Cup,” he said. “We understand we are playing seven games in January, after seven in December, and the season has been squashed and there is no room for anything else.

“But to play weakened teams or youth teams – is that the way round it? Not for me.”

On Lascelles and Saint-Maximin, Bruce added: “Jamaal has trained for the best part of the week.

“Allan is now back in country and waiting for the doctor to give us the go-ahead. They are edging towards it, but Allan and Jamaal have suffered more than anybody.

“We have had the green light with Jamaal. The big thing now is how he feels. It’s been a long time.

“Allan is something like six weeks as well and he’s not been able to do anything at all. That’s another challenge to get him on the training ground again, but there is light at end of the tunnel.”

FA Cup banner

  • Stream eight live FA Cup third-round games this weekend on BBC iPlayer, the BBC Sport website and app. Find out more here.

FA Cup footer

About Frank Rideout