Rochdale chief executive says suspending EFL season is inevitable

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(Reuters) - League One (third-tier) side Rochdale's chief executive David Bottomley said the English Football League will be forced to halt matches temporarily due to a surge in COVID-19 cases.

Several outbreaks have led to more than 50 matches being called off this season and Bottomley believes the EFL - which governs the three divisions below the Premier League - must take action.

A total of 34 League One matches have been called off so far, including Rochdale's previous two matches.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a new national COVID-19 lockdown on Monday but elite sport will be allowed to continue in England.

"Surely just for a month until the vaccine starts to get rolled out, we could have a break," Bottomley told the BBC.

"(Suspending the league) is inevitable. Hospitals across the United Kingdom are being told they are to face a massive surge in cases so who are we in football to be trying to add to that situation?"

"My fear, in common with that of a number of other League One chief executives... is there will be so many players test positive that we'll almost have to suspend the season. Human life is far more important than whether we play matches."

The United Kingdom has had more than 2.71 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and recorded over 75,000 deaths.

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)