May 14 (Reuters) - Restarting the Premier League season should not be a priority while Britain’s death toll continues to rise amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Brighton & Hove Albion striker Glenn Murray said on Thursday.
Premier League clubs have been in discussions to finish the 2019-20 season, which has nine rounds remaining, and the possibility of a restart was given a boost when the government said elite sport could return after June 1.
Britain is one of the worst affected countries in Europe with almost 230,000 infections and over 33,000 fatalities, and Murray believes talks of resuming the season are premature.
“Football isn’t necessarily a necessity – it’s a game, it’s a sport. I mean, what if we go through all this rigmarole of trying to get back started and we have a second peak and we’re stopped anyways?” the 36-year-old told Sky Sports.
“I just can’t understand after just sort of loosening the lockdown why we’re in such a rush to get it back. Why can’t we just wait sort of a month or so to see if things go to plan?”
Three Brighton players have tested positive for the virus in recent weeks and Murray said players are still concerned about bringing it home to their families.
“When I say some players may be reluctant to return I don’t want that to be perceived as sort of this snowflake mentality and ‘we’re worried about ourselves’ because I don’t think that’s the case,” he said.
“It’s more about the people we’re going home to that we’re worried about. Everyone’s in different situations and we just need to take that into consideration.”
The Bundesliga is set to resume this weekend but Murray argues the low death rate in Germany sets them apart.
“We’re all going to be watching the Bundesliga because it’s football and we all love football. It’ll be nice to see a live sport on TV without doubt,” he said.
“But I think what we’re not taking into consideration is that Germany have only had seven, eight thousand deaths, I think, and they’ve got 20 million more people than us.”
Brighton, 15th in the standings, have five home games left including visits from Manchester United, Liverpool, Manchester City and Arsenal, and are among a number of top-flight clubs opposed to the idea of resuming the season in neutral venues. (Reporting by Arvind Sriram in Bengaluru, editing by Pritha Sarkar)