Coronavirus: Hughton welcomes Premier League return and pressures of 'mini-tournament'

By Joe Wright 30 May 2020 4
Coronavirus: Hughton welcomes Premier League return and pressures of 'mini-tournament'

The return of the Premier League is "brilliant news" and the remainder of the season could be an intriguing "mini-tournament", former Brighton and Hove Albion boss Chris Hughton says.

On Thursday, organisers confirmed matches can resume from June 17 provided the United Kingdom government gives the go-ahead.

The English top flight was suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, with the UK among the countries hardest hit by the virus, with more than 38,000 people to test positive for COVID-19 having died.

Hughton, who has also managed Newcastle United and Norwich City, is happy the authorities have determined provisionally that it is safe to resume games, even if they must be behind closed doors.

"It's brilliant news that it's back," Hughton told Stats Perform News. "I think probably a little bit earlier than what we thought, particularly coming into these last few weeks and with so much uncertainty around it."

Hughton added: "I think the fact that they're happy with things that the government is saying and the progress they've made with the clubs and safeguarding and everything that goes with that one, that they're now at the stage where it's right to start.

"It's been quite exciting over the last couple of days and probably for lots of people that haven't tuned in too much with sports channels - they're almost up and running again."

The Premier League will resume with Manchester City against Arsenal and Aston Villa versus Sheffield United, with 92 games left to play in total.

Hughton, who steered Brighton to their first Premier League promotion in 2017, expects the hectic schedule to make for interesting viewing.

"What you have also got is, in a normal season, there will be a relegation battle, there will be a group of teams vying to get into the Champions League spots, so that is normal. That will be spread over a period of time," he said.

"What we've got now is almost like a mini-tournament. It's a six-week period where you go and play. So, what that does, it condenses that pressure into a shorter period of time, because we have had that gap, because of the financial implications for everybody, particularly with this period that we are going through.

"Of course, nobody at this moment is sure how next season will start. And of course, if next season is to start, I think that will be more difficult for the Championship teams than it is for the Premier League teams.

"But if there is a start of next season behind closed doors, then there are also financial implications that that will cause. So, this six-week period, nine games, condenses that pressure into a shorter period of time. As I said, it is almost like a mini-tournament."

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