March 11, 2020 / 10:49 AM / 3 months ago

Guardiola expects games in England to be hit by coronavirus restrictions

Soccer Football - Premier League - Manchester United v Manchester City - Old Trafford, Manchester, Britain - March 8, 2020 Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola looks dejected after the match REUTERS/Phil Noble

(Reuters) - Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola believes soccer matches in England will soon have to be played in empty stadiums because of the coronavirus outbreak, but he would prefer the games to be postponed.

Fans across Europe have been barred from attending matches and Guardiola said it was only a matter of time before games in England were affected.

“It happens already in Italy, the league is suspended and in Spain the games behind closed doors,” Guardiola told a news conference on Tuesday. “I think it’s going to happen here.

“We have to ask if it works to play football without spectators. If the people do not come to watch the games there is no sense, I wouldn’t like to play in the Champions League, Premier League, cups, without people.”

The Spaniard said City would follow instructions from the authorities.

“We are here for the people. One games, two games, maybe, but not longer,” he said. “We do it for the people. I would not love to play without people in the stadium.”

City, who are second in the Premier League table, host ninth-placed Arsenal on Wednesday.

German winger Leroy Sane is available for selection after a long-term knee injury but playmaker Kevin de Bruyne (shoulder) and centre back Aymeric Laporte (hamstring) are doubtful.

Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond

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