Project Restart: Premier League to scrap neutral venues idea

Premier League clubs have been told they can hold the remaining games of the 2019/20 season at their usual stadiums, according to reports.

Football has been suspended since early March in the UK due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the British government gave the green light for matches to resume in June.

A host of clubs expressed serious concern about the proposal to play the postponed matches at ‘neutral’ venues, with several grounds ruled out because of their proximity to large populations.

But the Daily Mail claim that in a meeting on Tuesday night lead by the Department of Culture, Media and Sports, the Premier League, EFL and FA were told they could hold games at their usual stadiums as scheduled, as long as they committed to providing the stewards necessary to oversee social distancing.

The police and the Sports Grounds Safety Authority were also involved in the talks and clubs have been told there is no need to have neutral venues if they can promise their local constabularies they can cover the costs of steward and officer resources needed.

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The topic of neutral venues had turned into a big issue for clubs as chiefs work to reach a consensus so the season can restart in June.

Two-thirds of top flight club said they were against the neutral venues idea in a meeting on Monday night, a massive increase on the initial six sides who opposed the plan.

Eight stadiums had been earmarked, including Arsenal’s Emirates, West Ham’s London Stadium, Brighton’s Amex and Southampton’s St Mary’s, Leicester City’s King Power Stadium, Aston Villa’s ground and Manchester’s Etihad and Old Trafford.

Clubs were concerned about losing home advantage at a crucial part of the season where teams are battling relegation and fighting for a place in the Champions League and Europa League.

The change in strategy is also good news for Liverpool, who are now on track to lift their first ever Premier League title at Anfield – albeit without their fans there.

The Premier League are set to enforce a host measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus, including the banning of spitting handshakes and regular testing for the virus.

While league chiefs are eager to finish the season by the end of July, Tottenham defender Danny Rose broke ranks to slam Project Restart.

Speaking on Lock’Don Live on Instagram, Rose said: ‘Government is saying ‘bring football back’ because it is going to boost the nation’s morale.

‘I don’t give a f*** about the nation’s morale, bro, people’s lives are at risk.

‘Football shouldn’t even be spoken about coming back until the numbers have dropped massively. It’s bollocks.’

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