Torquay United CEO George Edwards calls for one voice in football

Torquay United's ground at Plainmoor

Torquay United's ground at Plainmoor - Credit: Cameron Geran/PPAUK

The whole of football in England should have spoken with one voice during the Coronavirus pandemic, says Torquay United's chief executive officer George Edwards.

Edwards echoed Gulls chairman Clarke Osborne's view that much-needed leadership has been lacking.

He stresses football cannot possibly resume until the Government says it is completely safe to do so, for players, matchday staff and supporters.

Only when that point is reached, he says, can leagues decide which is the best way to complete the current season.

In common with most other lower division clubs, Torquay's players, management and non-football staff have been 'furloughed' during the current indefinite suspension of action by the National League.

Edwards said: 'We will get through this. We will come out on the other side. At Torquay United we are making sure that we look after the club in the best possible way going forward - that's all we can do. There is nothing more important than a human life - I know that sounds like a statement you hear all the time, but it is true.'

On the wider game's response to the crisis, he stressed: 'Football should have been united over this. Clarke, Mel (director Mel Hayman), Gary (manager Gary Johnson) and I have talked at length and we are all agreed - we think the National League should be aligned very closely to the EFL (Football League) and Premier League, and we should have been right from the start.

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'The leadership in football should have come from the top. The Premier League is the biggest and best league in the world, or so we are led to believe, and they could have enhanced their reputation here. We should all have been singing with one voice and, with the right leadership, it could and should have happened from Day One.'

The NL is holding a vote of clubs on whether or not to end their 2019-2020 season now - the league's board is recommending the former.

Edwards said: 'It is very simple - at some point, football is going to be played again. Next season (2020-2021) is a whole new season, and it can be whatever it is. For the integrity of the competition, we can resume this season, but only as and when it is safe to do so - that is the Government's call.'

Edwards confirmed the £58,000 which each National League club will receive from a £125 million package announced by the PL recently is only an advance on money which was due to be handed down in September anyway.

He added: 'Nothing about this situation is easy. Everybody is struggling. Every single person's life has changed, unfortunately for some much more than others, and that is very sad. The most important thing is that we stay at home, only go out when necessary and do everything we can to keep everyone as safe as possible.'