Covid-19: Rochdale chief executive says suspending the EFL season is ‘inevitable’

Rochdale are 21st in League One but have played two fewer games than some of their rivals at the bottom of the table

It is “inevitable” that the English Football League will have to temporarily suspend fixtures because of rising coronavirus cases, says Rochdale chief executive David Bottomley.

Seven of last Saturday’s EFL games – and 52 across the season – have been called off as the virus impacts teams.

“Surely just for a month until the vaccine starts to get rolled out, we could have a break,” Bottomley said.

On Sunday, the UK recorded more than 50,000 new confirmed Covid cases for the sixth day in a row and Prmie minister Boris Johnson is to make a statement about the situation at 20:00 GMT.

“[Suspending the league] is inevitable,” Bottomley told BBC Radio Manchester. “Hospitals across the UK are being told they are to face a massive surge in Covid cases so who are we in football to be trying to add to that situation?”

But BBC Sport understands the EFL has no plans to introduce a so-called ‘circuit-breaker’ to the season, either on a divisional or league-wide basis, with the situation under regular review by medical advisors.

Fixtures will continue taking place as long as it is safe to do so, but the EFL is implementing mandatory testing across all its member clubs this week following a spate of postponements during the festive programme.

Of the 52 fixtures called off so far this season because of Covid-19, 34 of them have been in League One.

“My fear, in common with that of a number of other League One chief executives I spoke to on Friday, is that there will be so many players test positive that we’ll almost have to suspend the season,” Bottomley continued.

“Human life is far more important than whether we play football matches, surely.

“I’m talking from personal experience. My 85-year-old mother has tested positive and has been in hospital from the beginning of December with Covid. It’s best football takes a break and step back.”

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