Chelsea boss Frank Lampard insists safety must take priority after his former England team-mate Steven Gerrard highlighted the role of football in providing people with a distraction during the coronavirus crisis.
Rangers manager Gerrard said he was not aware of “evidence or data to suggest there is a guarantee of improvement” if a ‘circuit-breaker’ was used to help combat the escalation in Covid-19 cases, adding that the sport gives people “a release” and “something to watch”.
Two members of Chelsea’s non-playing staff have returned positive results from the latest round of testing and when asked about Gerrard’s view, Lampard stressed the importance of protecting people from harm.
“I’m not sure on that one,” Lampard said. “I understand it. If you do love football you love watching the amount of games you get to watch at home. But safety has to be paramount.
“There are lots of people working at Chelsea within our bubble who have babies, parents, friends, sisters, brothers, grandparents…they come here and go to work.
“Then they go home and are in the environment where there’s another surge of the virus, which seems to be more contagious, so safety and security are paramount rather than trying to keep the nation’s spirits up.
“I know that might not be a nice thing to say, but these are tough times for everybody. We enjoy watching our football but safety and health have to come first.”
Lampard is open to the idea of a ‘circuit-breaker’ if it is deemed necessary.
He added: “We had that before in March. I have to say the Premier League and clubs themselves have done everything they can to make the environment as safe as possible.
“But we’re finding that’s not always easy to do when people go home and leave the building and the numbers are going up, particularly in London where we are.
“That would have to be for the authorities, Government, Premier League…everybody would need to be clear that it would be beneficial to stop for a circuit-breaker. If you’re told you stop, you stop.”
Lampard is expecting Sunday’s Premier League clash with Manchester City to go ahead despite the recent outbreak of coronavirus at City which forced the postponement of Monday’s game against Everton.
City boss Pep Guardiola has revealed that the club have five first-team players unavailable for the trip to Stamford Bridge due to positive tests, with two members of staff also forced to isolate.
“I haven’t been given the chances of the game being postponed this weekend, I’m just aware of the situation,” said Lampard. “At the moment the game is on.
“Manchester City had some positives within their training ground. We have had a couple ourselves, but not on the playing staff. That’s the current situation.”
When asked how safe players and staff feel in the current climate, Lampard said: “Generally probably as safe as the public because of the new surge in numbers we’re seeing.
“But we are in a more protected environment, certainly in the workplace. We’re now being tested twice a week and that’s really important. I don’t understand why we went down to once because two is important.
“It seems to me that the situation at the moment is that we go game by game. Games are being called off because of positive tests around the game itself and I understand that. Let’s see how it goes because these are uncertain times.”