Doncaster Rovers legend James Coppinger: 'There’s a lot of anxiety, a lot of frustration'

James Coppinger is old enough to have lived through one financial crisis in football, and says the latest one has caused anxiety and frustration amongst his fellow professionals.

UNCERTAINTY: Doncaster Rovers midfielder James Coppinger

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Doncaster Rovers' longest-serving player is out of contract this summer.

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The 41-year-old started his career at Newcastle United, and moved into the Football League in 2002, joining Exeter City months after ITV Digital went bankrupt. The satellite TV company owned the broadcast rights for matches in the Championship and Leagues One and Two.

Now the coronavirus is threatening to do even more damage to English football.

“It’s an uncertain time but there will be players out looking to kickstart their career and move their careers forward,” he said. “There’s a lot of anxiety out there, a lot of frustration. No one knows what’s going to happen.

“I remember leaving Newcastle around the time that ITV Digital collapsed and it was a similar sort of situation. Financially it was a time when no one knew what was going to happen next. As a professional footballer, you didn’t know whether the money would be there for contracts.

“It’s a similar situation now. Clubs are going to be looking to tighten the purse strings and that’s going to have a massive impact on those players on the fringes of certain teams. I think there is going to be a huge shift, people are going to be looking very closely at how something like this can pose such an enormous threat to a football club’s survival.”

English football was suspended in mid-March, and last week League Two clubs abandoned their attempts to restart the season, asking for permission to end it.

No matches has meant no matchday revenue, which for clubs in the bottom two divisions is particularly important. League One, Doncaster's division, is expected to be asked to decide its own fate later this week, and despite opposition from some play-off-chasing clubs, is expected to opt for abandonment too.

Coppinger, who moved from Exeter to Doncaster in 2004, is an ambassador for Northern League Division One club Guisborough Town, his hometown team. He hopes whatever solution is reached, League One is not voided.

“What we saw in the non-league steps of the pyramid – those leagues just being voided is shambolic,” he said. “But there are certain things the league or the FA could introduce to impact next season in order for this season to be completed.

“The longer it goes on, the harder it is to see how it can finish. It just gets more difficult in terms of fitness, in terms of finances and in terms of the virus itself and testing.”

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