Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson is reported to have told friends that he is worried government guidelines on the coronavirus outbreak could force him to miss the rest of the Premier League season.
League officials are aiming to return to action in June, but only following government approval once lockdown regulations begin to be eased. It is expected that younger members of society will be permitted to leave their homes, but those over 70 may be required to stay indoors as they are a ‘high risk’ group.
The Premier League remains committed to completing the remaining 92 games of the season, in line with UEFA’s recommendation.
— Sky Sports (@SkySports) April 27, 2020
According to The Sun, 72-year-old Hodgson has told his friends that he fears such restrictions would leave him unable to attend games or even lead training until the lockdown is fully ended, which some have suggested could be as late as 2021.
He is said to hope that ‘special dispensation’ could be made for the Eagles’ boss, with empty stadiums and training grounds described as ‘secure’ environments as everyone there will have been tested for the virus.
Neither the Premier League nor Palace will have any idea of what the future holds for Hodgson until the government make a fresh decision on the current situation. The next lockdown review is not scheduled until 7 May.
Should Hodgson be unable to spend time with his squad, the responsibility will likely go to assistant manager Ray Lewington, but even that could be impacted depending on the severity of the next lockdown ruling.
Lewington is 63 years old, and many health experts have suggested that those over 60 should be kept under tighter lockdown, not just the over 70s.
Hodgson previously admitted that he would not fight against any government regulations, saying: “Whatever decisions are made you have to abide by don’t you, there’s no question of that.
“We live in a democracy and we are all law abiding citizens.
“I’ll worry about that when the time comes, but certainly I have never felt healthier and never felt happier about the environment I am in, in terms of health at a time when people are asking questions about the environment – I think I’m in the best possible place.”
While Hodgson is the only top-flight manager over 70, several other clubs have staff members who could be banned from attending games as well. Manchester City coach Brian Kidd will soon turn 71 and Everton kitman Jimmy Martin is already 71, so decisions will have to be made about the futures of both.