Hoàng Anh Gia Lai skipper Nguyện Tuấn Anh (centre) tries to steal the ball from midfielder Trần Ngọc Sơn of Viettel during their V.League 1 match on March 15. The national tournament is scheduled to restart in mid-April. Photo of VPF
HÀ NỘI The national premier league has been delayed for the third time but clubs raise different ideas of the proposal plan of rescheduling the tournament.
VPF has announced there will be no games before April 15 due to coronavirus pandemic.
Previously, the league was scheduled to begin in January. Then it was pushed back to February which saw two weeks of matches before being paused till the end of March.
VPF is also working with the Việt Nam Football Federation (VFF) to seek a suitable plan to reorganise the tournament when the COVID-19 is controlled.
One of their proposed plans is that all teams will compete in stadiums in the North. They will travel by coaches instead of airplanes to limit the spread of the disease.
“Whatever plan is approved, it must meet our demands for safety, be economical for teams and give most favourable conditions for all participants,” said VFF Vice President Trần Quốc Tuấn.
“Keeping players competing to maintain their high performance will help the national teams complete their duties later this year,” he said.
According to the VPF, the remaining matches will be held in seven stadiums in the northern region with a rush of fixtures. Fourteen teams will be divided into three groups and compete from April 15 to May 29 or from May 1 to June 28.
Clubs based from Thanh Hóa Province to the North will compete at home. The others will choose neutral stadiums such as the PFV, Mỹ Đình and Phú Thọ as their home grounds.
The VPF and VFF will collect clubs’ opinions before making their final decision on March 29.
However, managers have reacted differently.
Thanh Hóa FC President Nguyễn Văn Đệ says the lengthening of the postponement caused problems including salaries for player.
“We are not as rich as the world clubs, so we could not follow them. We have to pay for players who do nothing and cannot maintain their peak without competing,” says Đệ.
“I don’t think we should delay competitions too long. We should have a solution that harmonises all issues and the tournament can wrap up safely,” he says.
Nam Định FC Executive Director Trần Thái Toán said: “If the organisers again delay the V.League 1 in April, we must have a meeting with players and coaching board. We need to recalculate our expenses.
“And the continuous postponement, I believe, will not only badly affect clubs but also strongly decrease the quality of the national teams,” he adds.
Other bosses do not support the plan.
Đoàn Nguyên Đức, the owner of Hoàng Anh Gia Lai FC, said: “I don’t think holding all the games in the North would be impossible. It is not time for football, but focusing on how to avoid and protect ourselves from the pandemic”.
“The whole world of sport is delayed so why are we going the other way. At present, cafes and barbers have been closed, so organising football matches, a team sport, is not right. It’d be better to postpone it until the outbreak is over.”
Đức, who is the former VFF Vice President, added that he would not let any Hoàng Anh Gia Lai players out of their camp.
“We are joining hands to battle COVID-19. If they (players) travel to the North and are unexpectedly infected by the virus, who will take responsibility? It is a mistake to think about football now.
“One year off is no problem for clubs. The only problem is the players’ performance when they rest too long. It will matter for the national team.
“We should look around our neighbourhood. We should see what ASEAN countries are doing, and learn from them before making decisions,” said Đức, who played a key role in inviting national head coach Park Hang-seo to Việt Nam.
Sài Gòn President Vũ Tiến Thành agreed, saying the proposed plan was designed to finish the season but was missing the point.
“How do we know our opponents are not infected? It is not fair for us to play in the North. It is like a friendly event and the quality of the league will be influenced,” Thành said.
Representatives of Becamex Bình Dương, Hải Phòng, Quảng Ninh and Hà Nội also said players’ safety came first. They want to play when it is clear from the virus. President Nguyễn Húp of Quảng Nam said the 2020 season should be cancelled. VNS