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Walsall legend Ray Graydon: Clubs will ‘go to sleep amid virus’

By Liam Keen | Walsall FC | Published:

Iconic former Walsall manager Ray Graydon fears that teams at the bottom rungs of English football could go to ‘sleep’ due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Ray Graydon .

The 72-year-old masterminded one of the greatest periods in the club’s history when he got them promoted to the old Division One twice in three seasons.

Despite his vast footballing experience, he insists he has never seen anything on the scale of the current virus outbreak and with no fixtures until at least April 30, Graydon is concerned about the future of teams at the bottom of the pyramid if no financial support is offered to them.

“It’s something that’s affecting everybody and it’s something we’ve never seen,” he said.

“I’ve not seen anything like it on a football level and it’s the same for everyone else in normal life.

“It’s very difficult to understand how people move forward.

“Thee first thing that hit me was that I thought there was a big chance for teams in the lower leagues to close up because of this.

“I would be amazed if there aren’t some clubs that go to sleep because they won’t have any money – I’ll be amazed if they get through it.

“You have players and managers that have nothing to do and the smaller clubs with very little money, how are they going to pay everyone?

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“I would see it as a massive disappointment if anything happened to these clubs – they need saving.”

Graydon managed the Saddlers from 1998 to 2002 and was also a hero during a six-year spell at Aston Villa during his playing days.

Although he admits the situation is unprecedented, Graydon believes his only hope would be to keep the players fit if he was in charge today.

“I had little staff and not many players and it all had to be changed when I came into the club,” he added.

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“Fortunately I didn’t have to face this, which I would find very difficult – I’m glad I haven’t got to deal with it.

“If I was a manager, I would try in some way to keep the players together as long as they aren’t ill.

“It’s not an easy thing because the Prime Minister is asking us all to be separated but my first thoughts would be to get a way of keeping the players together and keep them ticking over.

“Rather than just falling away - the players need to do some fitness training of some sort.”

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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