Hodgson calls for better government support for the NHS

Veteran football manager praises Crystal Palace players and club for their generous work in the community during coronavirus emergency

Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson has called for the NHS to be given more, and better, resources from government, rather than having to rely on donations and the generosity of the public during the coronavirus emergency.

Fantastic: Roy Hodgson is full of praise for the NHS

Hodgson, the former England boss, issued a long message to Palace fans yesterday, one month since his players had their last Premier League game since the covid-19 lockdown was declared, “and in that time, life as we knew it has been turned on its head”, Hodgson noted.

In his message, Hodgson joined the growing number of voices, such as Gary Neville and Gary Lineker, who have praised the charitable efforts of their fellow footballers at this time, in contrast to Tory-supporting hedge funds, billionaires and tax dodgers who appear to have been granted a free pass – and often millions of tax-payers’ money – to be bailed out or to profit from the crisis.

Describing the NHS as “magnificent”, Hodgson said, “One simply cannot praise the staff too highly, in my opinion. I’ve always been a huge supporter of the NHS, they do and have always done a fantastic job. We’re so lucky in this country to have a system like it, I’ve always felt that we do have a fantastic service and now it’s being demonstrated to everyone so clearly, that the resources we put in are well spent.

“I hope it might in future make us more aware that if you want this level of service, it needs a certain level of economic support – and I’m hopeful it will come from our taxes. We can’t rely on the NHS being funded by charities or people making donations – it’s nice that such individuals and organisations are doing so, and I’m full of praise for those who are doing it – but the work they’re doing is quite incredible and needs adequate resourcing.

“The praise they’re getting however enormous it is will never be enough. The job that doctors and nurses do is something you only fully appreciate at times like this, or when you are in need of help. To each and every one of them, thank you.”

Sheila Hodgson and Roy have been busy around their Thames-side apartment

Hodgson, who is 72, emphasised how he and his wife, Sheila, remain well and active in the Thames-side home. He explained that the club had had an exercise bike and some gym equipment delivered so that they can both keep active.

The veteran manager also highlighted the important work that his playing squad and the club have been doing in the community around Selhurst Park.

“There is absolutely no doubt that football pales into insignificance at a time such as this. This lockdown will have a major effect on people’s mental health and wellbeing, and I hope that there is positive news soon, especially in relation to us being able to return and finish off the season.

“I’d like to talk about the work the club, and indeed the players, have done to help members of our local community. Whilst it’s incredibly commendable, it doesn’t surprise me at all. I’ve been pleased to hear that work in our community has been stepped up even further than usual, and I was particularly keen to learn of club staff efforts in calling more than 1,200 season ticket-holders over the age of 70 to check they are OK, have a chat, and offer support.

“Our local food bank near the stadium has been overwhelmed with demand, and whilst I’m immensely saddened by the reality of the service they provide, I’m pleased that we – as a club – are continuing to support their cause.

“I think the players in general have a very generous streak when it comes to charity – they’re never slow to step forward when contributions are needed. I was impressed to learn that off their own backs many weeks ago, they got together to contribute to several local causes – but furthermore, that all players across the league have combined to provide extra funding for the NHS.

Normal service will be resumed soon at Selhurst Park

“All of these things are matters which show footballers and football clubs in the light they deserve to be held in.

“Our community, and the people around us, are very important to us.”

And with the Eagles 11th in the Premier League, Hodgson also called for a resumption of the fixtures as soon as it is safe to do so. “Everyone is in total agreement we need an end to this season,” he wrote.

“We don’t want artificial means of deciding who wins the league, who gets into the Champions League, who gets relegated and promoted.

“Ideally, our players would have three or four weeks’ minimum to prepare for the first match back, but I accept there may have to be a squeeze on that timeframe… It may also mean that we have to play our nine remaining matches in a shorter period of time than we normally would have done, and subsequently receive a shorter break between the seasons. But I think with all of these sacrifices – and I am uncomfortable using that word in such a context – everyone will be more than happy to go along with what it takes in order to get playing again as soon as possible in order to get the season finished.

“It will be a very joyous occasion at Beckenham when we get to train again together as a group and prepare for the remaining matches, and I’m 100 per cent sure that our fans will be very happy to see Crystal Palace play again, especially at Selhurst Park.”

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