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Darren Byfield: Players shouldn’t risk health for entertainment

By Liam Keen | Walsall FC | Published:

Former Walsall striker Darren Byfield believes bringing the League Two season to a close early is the right decision – insisting that footballers are not ‘guinea pigs’ for the public’s entertainment.

Darren Byfield

Last week, all 24 fourth tier sides agreed that they wanted to finish the current campaign off the field, due to ongoing concerns around costs amid the coronavirus pandemic.

That decision is still to be ratified by the EFL, but Byfield – who played for the Saddlers for four years over two spells – says the right conclusion has been found.

“The other leagues have more financial clout than League Two, so for all of the clubs to come together and decide not to play on, you know it’s the right thing for them,” he said.

“It doesn’t mean it’s the right thing for the other leagues, as they create a lot more money.

“League Two clubs rely on their fans coming through the gate and spending money, they can’t keep paying contracts to players with the season dragging on.

“They had to do it and no-one can say otherwise.”

Fellow former Walsall striker Troy Deeney has called on the Premier League season not to return as he refused to return to training this week.

Since then, one player and two members of non-playing staff at Watford have tested positive for coronavirus.

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Byfield, who spent a year as Deeney’s team-mate at Walsall in the 2009/10 season, agrees with the Watford forward – insisting that players cannot be brought back as entertainment if it is not safe to do so.

“I think the Premier League will finish and this season has to finish eventually, but players’ health has to come first,” he added.

“I didn’t understand watching the Borussia Dortmund game and the subs were sitting apart from each other – they’re all tested.

“They obviously don’t have it so why can’t they sit with each other, it baffles me.

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“I saw Troy Deeney speaking about the Premier League coming back and he’s spot on.

“If the game isn’t ready to be played, do not play it.

“They’re talking about people being bored and football being brilliant to lift our spirits, but at what cost?

“It doesn’t work that way, they’re not guinea pigs.

“Until it’s all done and is safe, then get the football back on. Until then, no. Health comes first.”

Liam Keen

By Liam Keen
Sports Reporter - @LiamKeen_Star

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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