Despite the growing threat of the coronavirus pandemic, the Bangladesh Football Federation is apparently determined to resume the second phase of the Bangladesh Premier League once the lockdown is lifted as most clubs have agreed to playing the matches.
"All members present in the Professional League Committee meeting have expressed their desire to resume the league immediately after observing possible lockdown next week and international engagements," BFF's senior vice-president and league committee chairman Abdus Salam Murshedy said in a video message following a virtual emergency meeting yesterday.
"Adjusting with the fixtures of the upcoming AFC Cup and World Cup Qualifying and with the lockdown in mind, a fresh draft fixture of Bangladesh Premier League will be made soon and it will be sent to the clubs for their opinion," said Murshedy adding that another meeting would be held on April 21, the last day of the current lockdown.
The clubs are apparently eager to return to the field as they have been in practice since the completion of the first phase in the first week of March. The second-phase was supposed to get underway on April 9.
"Leagues are being held across the world amid lockdowns and we proposed restarting the league immediately if there is any flexibility of the lockdown," Chattogram Abahani manager Arman Aziz said. "We started the league amid the pandemic and now we know how to handle the situation. However, the coronavirus is an unseen power and we don't know who are going to be infected but we can take proper measures to contain it because we have been providing Covid-19 test results to the federation every 14 days."
Aziz added, "Clearing salaries of foreign players without matches is a big burden for the cubs and I think the league must be completed by maintaining the health guidelines."
Mohammedan midfielder Habibur Rahman Shohag is sad due to the halt in play.
"We returned to the ground after a long gap and play has again stopped due to the lockdown. I really feel sad for not getting back to the ground but we don't have control over the coronavirus. We have nothing to do except for waiting," said the national midfielder.
Though most of the clubs want the league to restart, there is a little issue over the timing of the resumption.
"If the government extends the lockdown for another week, then it will take two more weeks to restart the league (first week of May) and then the clubs will get only one round to play because Bashundhara Kings are scheduled to fly to Maldives on May 9 to play in AFC Cup [scheduled for May 14 -20 May]. Afterwards, the national team are scheduled to start their preparation for World Cup Qualifiers [scheduled for June 3 – 15 in Qatar]," said Abahani manager and BFF executive committee member Satyajit Das Rupu, adding that the resumption of the league will depend on government's decision of lockdown.
All 13 clubs except for Sheikh Russel participated in the mid-term transfer window which closed on Saturday. The 12 clubs signed up 48 players, with relegation-threatened Brothers Union and Arambagh signing 14 and 12 players respectively.