Southport manager Liam Watson believes the continued risk to safety means the current season should be brought to an end.
Watson was speaking after Port eliminated National League FC Halifax Town last night in the fourth round of the FA Trophy away from home. It was an extremely impressive result for the National League North side, but Watson’s post-match thoughts were dominated by the ongoing talk around the possibility of continuing the season much longer.
Speaking to the club website, he said: “We’ve got this stupid tag of ‘elite’ sport. Well, I’ve got labourers, I’ve got scaffolders, I’ve got plasterers, I’ve got a variety of people who work on different jobs.
“They go to work, they walk in the changing rooms, sometimes they haven’t been able to get home and have a shower, like tonight, it’s a 7 o’clock kick-off. They do that, and someone foolishly calls them ‘elite’ sport.
“There is a reason why someone’s called it elite sport, and it was to do with getting play-offs on last year. We must be the only sport going where you’re saying elite sport, yet we don’t test players.”
He added: “At the first pandemic – because it seems like a back-to-back pandemic to me – you hardly knew anyone who had it; now you hardly know anyone who hasn’t had it. The strain is that bad, it’s that violent, and no one cares.
“The National League, let’s face it, from the start, we’ve had no leadership. Obviously, they’ve made changes at the top.
“I know we were promised grants. I’d actually question whether the DCMS promised with confidence that we’d get grants.
“I think it’s more the case of ‘well, we’ll take the grants for the first three months, and let’s hope we’ll have fans back in then’. Now it hasn’t, and as a director of a football club, I’d never take a loan.
“Why would I wanna take a loan? It might get you through three months.
“Oh, great, so you’ve got January, February, March – this season’s gonna go into June. So who’s gonna pay April, May, June?
“Then when you put it on the balance sheet, you’ve got a loan. The value of your business has actually massively reduced because you’ve got a £200,000 loan against that business.
“I don’t believe that’s something any football club should do, especially to cover up for a league. Do the league have any respect for us?
“I’ll say as a manager, no. As a director, no.
“As someone with a duty of care to a load of players, no.”
He concluded by saying: “There is no care in the world for anyone’s safety, none whatsoever. None for the volunteers, none for the press, none for anything, because if they did, this mockery would come to an end.
“If money is more important than life, count me out, I just don’t believe that’s right. I speak to loads of managers, everyone thinks it’s a joke now.
“You don’t even know at 2 o’clock whether the game’s gonna go ahead. We’ve had cases where someone’s feeling unwell in the dressing room and the game’s off.
“Just call it quits and start again next season.”