Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has warned Premier League players that they may need to consider going on strike until their concerns over the hectic schedule are heard.
The English top flight have often been accused of valuing money from broadcasters over the welfare of the players, with high-profile managers like Guardiola and Liverpool's Jurgen Klopp rarely shying away from condemning the dangers that come with such a busy winter schedule.
The tension has only been exacerbated by the recent Covid-19 spike, which has seen some teams awarded match postponements and others forced to play on, and Guardiola admitted that it is time for a change.
“The players and managers all together [need to] make a strike or do something because words alone are not going to be enough,” Guardiola said (via The Times).
“It is not going to be solved because for UEFA, FIFA, the Premier League, the broadcasters, business is more important than [player] welfare.
“Here, everyone decides for themselves. We talk about [player] welfare, [maybe] the associations of the players [should] say: ‘OK, we don’t play anymore until we solve that situation.’ Maybe then people will pay attention.”
Guardiola's words were soon echoed by the Professional Footballers' Association, who supported the idea of a strike if players continue to be put at risk.
"I’ve spoken with many senior players on this issue. I can tell you that it isn’t going away," PFA chief executive Maheta Molango told the Daily Mail. "Players don’t choose to speak out on issues like this without having given it a lot of thought.
"As their union, the PFA enables players to stand together. That unity gives them enormous strength.
"Now it’s up to those who run the game at all levels to begin to take this seriously so it’s an issue that can be addressed constructively with players at the heart of the conversation. That has to happen now. This isn’t something that can be kicked down the road again."