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Interviews

Update from CEO

15 May 2020

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Stephen Bettis has moved to assure supporters that Sheffield United remain in a 'good place' and will be able to 'push forward next season', despite the Covid-19 pandemic that has seen Premier League football suspended since March.

And speaking on Friday, United's chief executive officer revealed that he has spoken at length with boss Chris Wilder, his coaching staff, the players and the club's medical professionals on resuming the season in the coming weeks with the group 'desperate to get back playing football'.

Bettis began: "It's been a challenging few months, but the key thing for us, with the support of the Premier League and the rest of the clubs, is we've all been communicating, which is great and I think it has brought us all together. We've all been working and understanding the situation, taking advice from the professionals around the Premier League and trying to see if we can get this season restarted.

"It's known and it's been well publicised the levels of money involved within the Premier League and the potential losses to each of the clubs. I can say that the board and our owner have been extremely supportive, even with our staff and furloughing them, but not using the Government's scheme, and making sure that everyone is getting 100% of their money during this difficult period to keep them OK and at home, safe.

"It's been tough and there's still a long road to go, but I think we're in a good place and we're making decisions to be able to push forward for next season."

He added: "We've got a skeleton staff working at Bramall Lane doing the retail side of things, the online sales. We've recently had the pitch re-laid, which we do every summer, but we moved it forward because we were weren't sure on how long the window was going to be between the end of this season and next season based on the discussions we've been having.

"So, there's still work going on, but we're just making sure it's being done safely and following the guidelines of the relevant bodies."

United have continually backed and assisted when possible the NHS and Government since the onset of this deadly virus and Bettis is conscience of trying to return some to kind of normality in the coming weeks and months, but with safety and people's well-being remaining the number one priority.

He continued: "This week there has been a lot in the press about the potential starting of the league. I've had meetings with all of the coaching staff and everybody was so positive and fired up to get back and get the season started again.

"On Thursday, I was on a call with Chris, all of the players and our medical team to make sure they're all comfortable, they're all educated and understand exactly the implications of returning the way we're doing it, the way we're trying to create this safety bubble for them to play football in and there isn't anybody that's not desperate to get back playing football."

"It's not ideal (playing behind closed doors), but when you look at the situation and I think at times in the press it can be a bit frustrating because people talk about overpaid Premier League footballers and 11 v 11, this isn't what we're talking about. As a club, we employ 600 to 700 people directly and indirectly and all of those rely on our club to live and survive and that's their income. We have a responsibility like every other business in this country to return and go back to work as soon as it is safe to do so.

"We're taking guidance from some of the top people in the country that are acting consultants for the Premier League and when they say it's right, we will listen to them and we'll get cracking."

Bettis concluded by thanking the Blades fans for their continued backing the season and says discussions are ongoing at present as to how they can see all the remaining action from this season and beyond, despite fixtures being played in empty stadiums for the foreseeable future.

He ended: "We all know what our supporters are like and the environment that they can create at Bramall Lane for the opposition and the record this season has shown that.

"It's upsetting because we've got a handful of games still to play at home, which would have been great for the fans to have seen and to have seen what would have hopefully been a really successful end to the season for us.

"But we're mindful of that, we're trying to look at how to get the games on so they can watch them and as soon as it's safe to do so, they'll be back in our stadium and hopefully enjoying their football again."


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