Premier League fixtures could be played behind closed doors within weeks over fears of the coronavirus.
That is the grim warning after it was announced all Serie A games will be played without fans in the stadium for the next four weeks.
And Everton director Alexander Ryazantsev, speaking on FT Business of Football summit, insists the same prospect is now heading for the Premier League.
“We feel it is quite likely it may happen in the coming weeks.
“It would be a forced decision rather than one we would proactively engage in. “But the whole situation goes far beyond the world of sport.
“Of course nobody wants to play behind closed doors and I don’t think it’s inevitable at the moment that it will happen.”
Premier League and Football Association bosses have already held secret talks about the possibility of playing games behind closed doors to stop the killer virus from spreading.
There is also growing doubt about England’s friendly at Wembley on March 27 because Italy has been the worst hit country in Europe so far.
The FA have insisted that they are planning as if the game is going ahead while the Premier League say they are taking daily advice from the Government.
But the biggest fear of all is a player testing positive for the virus because that would effectively result in the whole club being shut down for weeks.
That would result in a “domino effect” which could stop fixtures being completed with a growing fear some leagues will not be completed this season.
UEFA insisted this week they are pressing ahead with Euro 2020 which is being played across Europe this summer but there are growing fears about the Tokyo Olympics.
The deadly coronavirus started in China and has found its way into some countries.