'Shocking news' - Exclusive: Whelan reacts as EFL cast doubt over Leeds 2020/21 season
Noel Whelan insisted “football needs fans” as Leeds United are faced with the prospect of the 2020/21 season being played behind-closed-doors.
The former ex-Elland Road striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider correspondent Dylan Childs, suggested a year without football would be “shocking” for fans who “need” live football in their life.
The EFL Chairman, Rick Parry, spoke of the challenges facing football amid the Coronavirus pandemic in a Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee hearing this morning.
Thought Rick Parry spoke very well this morning. Laid bare the issues – but also highlights the chasm between bottom of L2 and top of Championship and different priorities. First time we have a firm date this EFL season can't go past and first official doubt over start of 20/21.
— Simon Stone (@sistoney67) May 5, 2020
Parry claimed gate receipts to the EFL, and in particular, the Championship, are vital to the club’s finances, unlike the Premier League.
It was revealed it would actually cost some clubs to play if next season started without fans, suggesting next season may not start until it is safe to have fans back in stadiums.
When asked by Football Insider if he would support a full season behind-closed-doors, Whelan said: “It would be shocking news. Not just for Leeds but for every team.
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“Fans’ outlet is football. They work hard all week to go to the football games and it is a family outing as well these days. It is one joy that they are taking out of a lot of people’s lives which they need in their lives.
“Football needs fans. It would be surreal. It might be televised but it is not the same.
“As much as everyone would be gutted safety and people’s lives come first.”
Leeds fans, if promoted, could feasibly be denied their first chance to watch the Whites in the Premier League since 2004.
If United remain in the Championship, the EFL Chairman’s comments raise serious doubts over whether the 2020/21 season would begin until fans were safe to return.
In other Leeds United news, Kevin Phillips has tipped Ben White to re-sign this summer after Phil Hay reveal.