Everton board member Sasha Ryazantsev has revealed it is “quite likely” that Premier League clubs will be forced to play matches behind closed doors due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The disease, which can cause severe lung issues, has now reached at least 40 countries since it was first detected in China late last year, with the UK now having over 80 confirmed cases.
The outbreak of the virus has led to a spate of sporting events across Europe being cancelled including a number of Serie A matches last weekend.
The Italian government also confirmed earlier this week that all sporting events would take place behind closed doors until April 3.
Click to play
Tap to play
The video will start in8Cancel
While Valencia’s Champions League return fixture against Atalanta at the Mestalla will be played behind closed doors next week.
On Wednesday it was reported that the Premier League had written to all 20 Premier League clubs to offer advice in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.
And Ryazantsev, speaking at the FT Business of Football Summit, believes Premier League matches will be played in empty stadiums in the near future.
He said:”It would be a forced decision rather than one we would pro-actively engage in. But the whole situation goes far beyond the world of sport.
“Of course nobody wants to play behind closed doors and I don’t think it’s inevitable at the moment that it will happen. But we feel it is quite likely it may happen in the coming weeks.”
Other sports have also been affected by the outbreak, with England’s upcoming Six Nations match against Italy and the Formula 1 Chinese Grand Prix both being cancelled.