Bournemouth's Francis concerned by risk of players spreading the coronavirus

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FILE PHOTO: Premier League - Burnley v AFC Bournemouth

(Reuters) - Bournemouth captain Simon Francis said he is concerned by the Premier League's plans to resume its 2019-20 season due to the risk of players spreading the coronavirus amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Football in England was suspended indefinitely last month due to the novel coronavirus, which has caused more than 26,000 deaths in Britain, and matches are likely to be held without supporters once the season resumes.

England's top-flight clubs, who are faced with the prospect of losing money from broadcasters if the campaign is cancelled, will meet on Friday to discuss ways to finish the season.

"My head's saying that I would love to see football restart, to play the remaining games and finish the season; my heart is saying we shouldn't be putting football, or economics, before anyone's health and safety," Francis told The Times newspaper

Several Premier League clubs, including Bournemouth, have reopened their training grounds for individual sessions.

"I understand how much of a boost the return of football would provide: I'm still a fan myself -- to be able to watch a game on TV again would be amazing. But there's no doubt about the risks involved," the 35-year-old said.

"A friend's wife contracted the virus recently. She had no underlying health issues but was in a really bad way, bedridden for over a week.

"And that has really made me think. Footballers are healthy athletes, and the risks to us, statistically, are low, but the prospect of bringing the virus home to my family isn't something I want to think about."

Francis said that there were several players at Bournemouth who had major concerns.

"We have three or four players who have family members with underlying health issues. One player is back in his home country with his partner, who just had a baby," he said.

"Diego Rico is back in Spain with his family. Would they have to be quarantined when they returned? When would it be safe to see their families again?"

(Reporting by Arvind Sriram in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis)