Ex-striker Bent proposes footballers moving into a 'secure bubble'

Should footballers move into one big bubble? Former Tottenham striker Darren Bent calls for players to follow the NBA’s lead by isolating together at St George’s Park because ‘they can’t be trusted’ not to break Covid rules

  • The Premier League recorded 36 new cases in the latest round of testing
  • That followed the top-flight record of 40 recorded in the previous week 
  • Troy Deeney and Sam Allardyce have suggested that football should stop  
  • But Bent has urged football to consider a NBA-style bubble for the next month 

Former Tottenham and England striker Darren Bent has called for a ‘secure bubble’ to be put in place for English football over a four-week period to help stem the flow of coronavirus cases.

The Premier League recorded 36 new Covid-19 cases in the latest round of testing, following the league high of 40 recorded the previous week.

Five Premier League matches have now been postponed due to Covid outbreaks at clubs, the most recent being Aston Villa’s game against Tottenham Hotspur, due to be played at Villa Park on Wednesday 13 January.

Darren Bent has called for a ‘secure bubble’ to be put in place for a four-week period

The Premier League recorded 36 new Covid-19 cases after the record of 40 the previous week

West Brom boss Sam Allardyce has said a football lockdown should be reconsidered as a result and Watford captain Troy Deeney has led the calls for the sport to be shut down.

But Bent has thrown his weight behind a different argument and believes players should enter a bubble much like NBA stars did at Disney World in Florida to complete the 2020 season.

‘We have seen it work in other sports, if you look at the NBA for instance last season,’ Bent told talkSPORT.

‘They did it for three months by the way. They moved into that secure bubble and if you left the bubble for any reason and came back you had to self-isolate for two weeks.

Troy Deeney (left) has called for football to be shut down while Sam Allardyce (right) thinks it should be reconsidered

‘If you are talking about four weeks given at the training ground, it would work, it would certainly bring the numbers down as you can keep a track on every single one of your players.’ 

The most high-profile case of Premier League players breaking the rules over Christmas was when West Ham’s Manuel Lanzini was seen celebrating Christmas with Tottenham players Erik Lamela, Sergi Reguilon and Giovani Lo Celso and their families which contradicted London’s Covid-19 rules.

And Bent believes that shows that is just the latest example of why some players cannot be trusted to abide by the rules, but doubts whether footballers would be completely happy with moving into a bubble.

But Bent believes the Premier League should follow the NBA who had a three-month bubble for the likes of LeBron James

‘Unfortunately what we have seen in the last few weeks is that you can’t 100 per cent trust the footballers at the moment,’ he continued.

‘You are seeing some break protocol, you are seeing it around the holiday period and Christmas and them mixing together, and you’re not supposed to do that.

‘The more they keep mixing and doing all these kind of things, the numbers are just going to keep going up and up and up. I think it would work, but whether the players would be 100 per cent happy with it, I can’t see it.

‘The NBA did it for three months, that is a long time. If we’re only talking about four weeks for Premier League clubs or all football in this country to do that, then that could work.’

Bent believes players cannot be trusted to abide by the rules after Manuel Lanzini (top third right) and three Tottenham players broke rules over Christmas

The NBA bubble was a reported £133million ($180m) investment and saw the league and its 22 teams go into the Disney World bubble on July 7, more than three weeks before the season restarted on July 30.

Players were not allowed out of the bubble barring some exceptions, and no one was allowed in the bubble until later in the playoffs, when teams were given one room to accommodate families and guests.

Players were also banned from visiting each other’s hotel rooms and were tested for Covid-19 every day and if they showed symptoms, they would move into different housing from the rest of the teams.

But when asked by talkSPORT host Laura Woods where English football could try to replicate the Disney World set-up, Bent suggested England’s St George’s Park but admitted there would be accommodations issues. 

Bent suggested St George’s Park as a location where the Disney bubble could be recreated

‘The only place you can think of is St George’s Park because there are enough pitches there, but there is not enough accommodation unless you start dotting teams around Burton [upon Trent].

‘Something clearly needs to be done, players have got to take more emphasis on what they’re doing, they need to look at themselves and say to themselves ‘listen, do I need to keep breaking protocol?’ 

‘Eventually, if they do keep doing that, football will have to stop, the Government has already said that they are letting the FA and the clubs police themselves, but we are going to have to step in if the players keep breaking protocol, not self-isolating, mixing with other players, then what other choice have they got but to suspend the season?

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