Western Morning News

City chairman wants to see season completed

- RICHARD HUGHES richard.hughes@trinitymir­ror.com

EXETER City are intending to start training again on May 16 with a view to playing some competitiv­e football in June – but behind closed doors.

Chairman Julian Tagg has warned of the financial difficulti­es that some clubs will face with the lack of matchday revenue, but he says League Two clubs are determined to get this season finished when they get the chance.

Tagg said: “There is a consensus right across the leagues and an intention to do everything possible to try to finish for a whole variety of reasons – from the integrity of the league to sponsorshi­p and the financial implicatio­ns. And importantl­y, also to the fans.

“While that is the intent across the board, of course there is no doubt the ultimate decisions of whether that is possible or not will be from the Government.

“Our own Government is weighing up what is happening across the world and nationally and that will reflect on the decision making – which will affect not only football but every industry.”

City were involved in a video conference call organised by the EFL on Tuesday – but Tagg says he has been talking to other League Two chairman about the situation constantly, and manager Matt Taylor, who he rings most mornings.

“I have been talking to many of the people in League Two and some of them in League One,” said Tagg.

“It is not that long ago that our football club was in some extreme difficulti­es where if we didn’t get a game on Saturday we couldn’t pay the wages the week after – and there are some clubs that are already in that position now.

“Our Trust ownership remembers that and it has stood us in good stead. But there is no doubt that over the longer term everybody is going to feel some pain from this – how much is obviously proportion­al to how long it lasts.” May 16 as a date for the club to start training is obviously provisiona­l but if football is to start behind closed doors in early June, training must start at least three weeks before.

Tagg said: “I speak to Matt Taylor daily and the intention is to start training again on May 16 – and to start playing in June.

“That’s the target – whether that is possible or not remains to be seen.

“Every day changes your opinion and your view as you see what’s happening in the outside world.

“Even your own opinion is sometimes something that you are relatively clear on – but this whole unknown situation can change views and opinions, even the hardest views.

“An example is, any football in the early stages certainly will be played behind closed doors. If you had talked about that a month or so ago, nobody would have even entertaine­d it, now everybody accepts it almost as a given.”

And Tagg believes fans will be able to watch the games somehow – saying the infrastruc­ture is already there for the EFL to stream matches.

The Football League’s streaming service, called iFollow, means the league has the capacity to televise all games.

“That said, you still need all the players and the staff and the cameramen, and safety crews and medical assistance, so there’s still quite a lot to think about,” Tagg said. “But the reality is that it is possible to play behind closed doors and have the matches televised.

“It won’t be like having 10 cameras from Sky – but it is quite a good product. It is certainly not an answer to the financial questions by a long chalk but it is something that might get the season finished – and it goes some way for the fans getting their football fix.

“But there are a lot of ‘ifs’ in amongst all that.”

 ?? Cameron Geran/PPAUK ?? > Exeter City chairman Julian Tagg
Cameron Geran/PPAUK > Exeter City chairman Julian Tagg

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