Teaser: With two league titles and two FA Cups for Liverpool, John Barnes is a veritable legend of the game.
Name: Naz Majeed @NazMajeed (Twitter)
An integral member of the last Liverpool team to win the English top-flight, John Barnes is a celebrated footballing icon, and has never shied away from speaking his mind when it comes to anything related to football. This week, the former England winger sat down with beIN SPORTS to discuss the controversy surrounding the return of the Premier League, and the divide between those for and against the resumption of sport in the country.
“Well, first of all, they’re two different aspects to it. There's getting back to training and getting back to playing. Obviously Germany has gone back to playing, they’ve gone their process of training and social distances and of course in Spain when they start to play,” he says, with the German Bundesliga has had several rounds of fixtures since their return on May 16th, and referencing La Liga which is still due to resume on June 12th.
“But there are some players who decided they don’t even want to go back to training like Troy Deeney, for example, because he has a young child who's got asthma problems. It’s understandable.”
Watford skipper Deeney has become both the lightning rod and rallying point for either side of the debate after being one of the first high-profile players refusing the return to training, even with safety protocols put in place.
Watford have confirmed at least three members of their staff being infected with Covid-19, and several members of their playing squad have now joined Deeney and are electing to distance themselves from preparations to resume the Premier League. Theirs is a stance that Barnes understands.
“If some people decide they don’t want to go back, we have to have empathy with them and say ‘well that is your right.’ There are players who will not be happy with going back even to training at this point in time but it comes to a point whereby the powers that be have to make a decision when we go back, you can’t hold players to that,” Barnes says, with Bournemouth and Burnley also revealing positive cases among their staff.
While the vast majority of tests conducted on Premier League squads have returned negative, Barnes himself is not entirely convinced. “Although the protocols will be there, there will be players who will be tested positive for COVID- 19 as there has been.”
It is a difficult situation with no obvious or clear resolution, a fact that Barnes is almost resigned to. “They’re waiting for it to disappear and to be given 100% guarantees that it won’t happen. That’s not going to be around for a couple of years anyway,” the two-time FA Cup winner says. “Individuals have to decide whether they mitigate the risk because there is always going to be a risk... But you will still have players under those circumstances who will be uncomfortable with going back and we have to respect their wishes.”
Watch John Barnes on The Champions Club hosted by Angus Scott on Wednesday at 2100 Mecca on beIN SPORTS HD11. Check www.bein.net for updates and local listings for The Champions Club and more of the latest and greatest sports and entertainment content you can enjoy from the comfort of your home.