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Neutral venues a must if Premier League is to complete season



Deputy chief constable Mark Roberts. (Aaron Chown/PA)

Deputy chief constable Mark Roberts. (Aaron Chown/PA)

PA Archive/PA Images

Deputy chief constable Mark Roberts. (Aaron Chown/PA)

Premier League clubs have been told the remaining matches of the 2019-20 season must be played at neutral venues.

The clubs were presented with the league's 'Project Restart' plans at a meeting yesterday, and while a statement was issued reconfirming the clubs' commitment to finishing the season, there is no possibility that it can now finish on a home-and-away basis.

The restart plans were understood to have been well received, but there remains opposition on competition and integrity grounds about the idea of finishing at neutral venues.

Clubs are expected to vote on the key principles of 'Project Restart' some time after May 7, when the government must review the current UK lockdown.

Brighton chief executive Paul Barber said on Thursday that the idea of not playing matches home and away was a "further imperfection".

The UK national football policing lead, Deputy Chief Constable Mark Roberts of South Yorkshire Police, said on Wednesday that playing all matches in the Premier League and EFL at their original venues would "present challenges" for the emergency services.

It is understood there were still no discussions around declaring the season null and void.

The league is working with the government on the restart plans and the first meeting took place yesterday between medical officials from sports governing bodies, including the Premier League's Mark Gillett, and representatives from Public Health England.

Return-to-training protocols, which include wearing face masks or snoods, were presented. It is understood the league is working towards a best-case scenario of play resuming from the week beginning June 8.

A statement from the Premier League read: "The league and clubs are considering the first tentative moves forward and will only return with government guidance, under medical advice and after consultation with players and managers."

Belfast Telegraph