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10 Mar, 2020 14:49

'There’s no sense playing without the people': Man City boss Guardiola speaks on coronavirus stadium closures

'There’s no sense playing without the people': Man City boss Guardiola speaks on coronavirus stadium closures

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has said there is “no sense” in continuing to play games without fans, as more and more matches are set to be held behind closed doors amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The spread of the virus – which has infected upwards of 100,000 people worldwide and killed more than 4,000 – continues to play havoc with sporting events from Formula 1 to football.

Italy, which has suffered the second most deaths behind China, has suspended all sporting events until the start of April, while on Tuesday it was also announced that La Liga matches in Spain would be played without fans for at least the next two weeks.

Sporting shutdown: ALL sport in Italy to be suspended until April 3 due to coronavirus

The UEFA Champions League has also been affected, with the last 16 second leg matches between Barcelona and Napoli and Bayern Munich and Chelsea being added to those to be played without fans attending.

While matches in England’s Premier League are still being played in front of fans, Manchester City manager Guardiola said he expects the league to soon follow suit – but added that without fans it made “no sense” to continue holding matches in the longer term.   

"We are here for the people. One games, two games, maybe, but not longer. We do it for the people. I would not love to play without people in the stadium," Guardiola said as his team prepares to meet Arsenal in the Premier League on Wednesday.

"If UEFA say you have to play without spectators then we are going to play without spectators. But the health is the most important thing."

He added: "We are conscious of it because it has happened already in Italy. The league is suspended, and in Spain the next two weeks are behind closed doors.

"It is going to happen here. The tendency rises at the same level as Italy before and in Spain right now.”

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Guardiola’s views chime with those of prominent TV pundit Gary Neville, who tweeted on Tuesday that he would prefer to see matches postponed rather than played in empty stadiums.

“I do NOT support matches played behind closed doors. If it’s necessary to shut down stadiums the associations must find a way of delaying the season and playing the games when it is safe to do so to protect the revenues for clubs that require this income to survive,” Neville wrote.

Basketball star LeBron James recently issued similar sentiments, saying he would not play in empty arenas if spectators were banned from attending.

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