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Walsall comment: Saddlers are prepared to ride out the coronavirus storm

By Liam Keen | Walsall FC | Published:

The suspension of football games across the country has come at a bad time for Walsall, but sadly it is necessary.

Leigh Pomlett

The club have been riding on the crest of a wave with recent performances, following the impressive 3-1 win at home to promotion chasing Exeter last week.

It took their unbeaten run to five games and confidence was high in the group.

The outbreak of the coronavirus has meant the EFL have suspended all matches until April 3 ‘at the earliest’ – with that period potentially being extended.

The season is now in jeopardy and plans must be put in place to finish it.

In terms of Walsall’s momentum, that has come grinding to a halt, while financial it is bad news.

There are plenty of clubs in the EFL that cannot afford to lose money with home games, and Walsall is arguably one of them.

The revenue from supporters buying tickets – as well as food and drink within the stadium – is essential to the Saddlers and that income will now be lost.

In the three-week period the club were scheduled to have two home games and it will pose a serious blow to the club.

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This suspension period could also be extended, and if that stretches to the end of the season, Walsall will miss out on revenue for four home games.

Walsall chairman Leigh Pomlett has insisted that the club is well positioned to deal with the issue, despite how unusual it is.

“It’s very unwelcome but it could be a lot worse,” he said. “It’s a sensible, proportionate decision that the EFL have made.

“It’s three weeks, which means we’ll lose two of our home games, which is a problem.

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“We’re disappointed but our primary concern has to be the welfare and the health of the supporters here.

“This is a significant issue but it’s a temporary issue and eventually we’ll come out the other side.

“It’s difficult to plan for something you’ve never seen before but we have planned for a couple of weeks now.”

It may be hard to stomach but this decision is the right one.

Firstly, a suspension is far better than playing games behind closed doors.

Fans are what make football and playing games in empty stadiums would not be anymore beneficial to clubs in a financial sense – perhaps worse.

There are ways around the scheduling issue, particularly if the Euros were postponed until 2021.

With experts predicting the ‘peak’ of the outbreak to come in April, it is likely that the suspension will be extended and then scheduling becomes far more difficult.

In reality, Walsall could end up ending this season and starting the next almost immediately.

But, all clubs are in the same boat and the Saddlers are perhaps in a better position that most.

Had they been fighting for promotion or battling relegation this season, then the break could potentially be even worse for them. For now, the most important thing is health and football needs to take a back seat.

Liam Keen

By Liam Keen
Sports Reporter

Sports journalist at the Express & Star, primarily covering Walsall FC and grassroots sport across the Black Country and Staffordshire. Got a story? Get in touch on 01902 319456.

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