'That bit concerns me' - David James responds to vaccination comments from Burnley manager Sean Dyche

Former England goalkeeper David James has expressed some concern over Burnley manager Sean Dyche’s recent comments on vaccinating footballers.

Sean Dyche. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Sean Dyche. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

The Clarets boss made headlines on Thursday by raising the idea of vaccinating footballers quicker than other low risk members of society so that the money being spent on extensive testing schedules could be redistributed into the NHS.

Speaking in a press conference, he said: “You look at the amount spent on testing in the Premier League, then that money could be channelled back into the NHS and into the vaccination system, then surely that’s a better place to be than just continually testing a load of footballers two or three times a week.

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“I appreciate some people will say, ‘Why should footballers get vaccinated?’ etc, etc.

“But say 20 Premier League clubs with 100 people vaccinated, the payback to the NHS and the vaccination system would be considerable.

“If you vaccinate, you don’t need to keep testing and so the testing diminishes, and that money could be used for a much-better cause and football would stay a competitive industry rather than one that might end up a skewed industry because of players missing games.”

Reflecting on the proposal during Sky Sports’ Football Show, however, James was quick to point out the potential pitfalls.

"I’ve got a bit of ambivalence towards it, I have to say”, the pundit said.

"Yes, I get it, and especially when he explains the rationale behind it – you take care of the care workers and the high risk members of society first.

“But when you look at the number of people who have actually been vaccinated at the moment, and the way in which they’re actually planning to roll it out, and the number of people who are actually frontline workers or high risk, it’s still going to be a long, long time before the Premier League – even if Sean got what he wished for – were in a position where they could start vaccinating players.

"Therefore, there’s still going to be millions of pounds, according to his sums, spent on testing. So I get it, but with a bit of ambivalence, because the concern I would have is that it’s looking to demonstrate that money will get you ahead of the queue, even if that suggested queue is after the most needed members of society.

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"If anything it’s like the Day After Tomorrow, where people pay to get on the boat. That bit concerns me. It shouldn’t be about the amount of money the Premier League’s got to put them ahead, but I think there is some merit to what he's saying, and it’ll be interesting to see what happens.”

Dyche was quick to emphasise that he would not wish to see footballers given priority over frontline workers or elderly and vulnerable people in the vaccination schedule, and also took time to praise Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford for the work he has done in persuading the government to provide free school meals for disadvantaged children during the pandemic.

As of January 6th, Prime Minister Boris Johnson suggested that nearly 1.5 million people in the UK have been vaccinated already.