Search

Coronavirus: Premier League clubs against use of neutral grounds

PUBLISHED: 16:54 09 May 2020 | UPDATED: 16:54 09 May 2020

Detail of the No Room for Racism logo on the matchday ball ahead of a Premier League match

Detail of the No Room for Racism logo on the matchday ball ahead of a Premier League match

PA Wire/PA Images

Watford are the latest club to rail against plans to end the season at neutral venues, with chairman Scott Duxbury saying the Premier League has a “duty of care” to address concerns about a “distorted nine-game mini-league”.

Ahead of Monday’s crunch meeting of top-flight shareholders, the Hornets have joined Brighton and Aston Villa in making their opposition to the current ‘Project Restart’ plans clear.

The decision to use neutral grounds for the remaining 92 fixtures sticks in Duxbury’s craw, with Watford 17th in the Premier League and looking to stave off relegation amid a challenging backdrop brought by Covid-19.

“There is no altruism in the Premier League,” said Duxbury, former chief executive at West Ham.

“There are 20 different vested interests, which sometimes align but more often than not work purely to protect each individual club.

“That is why some clubs are happy to sign up to ‘Project Restart’ because arguably there is only an upside in participating in this compromised format; it means Liverpool can win the title, other clubs can book their place in Europe next season or potentially fight their way up the table from a position of safety.

“But when at least six clubs - and I suspect more - are concerned about the clear downside and the devastating effects of playing in this kind of distorted nine-game mini-league, then I believe the Premier League has a duty of care to address those concerns.

“If we start and finish a whole season under these conditions and at neutral venues when everybody knows the rules when we start, not created in a time of crisis, then that is clearly fair.

“To be asked to finish a quarter of the season under new rules and conditions is an entirely different proposition.

“How can the long-term future of clubs be determined under these fundamentally changed conditions? How is there any semblance of fairness? To wave aside all the fears and concerns is too simplistic.

“Surely all 20 clubs must agree the fairest way forward to complete the season? I hope we can now come together and find a solution to enable the season to end safely and fairly.”

Duxbury accepts matches must be played behind closed doors due to the ongoing coronavirus situation but having to play away from Vicarage Road is not an idea he buys into.

“We are now told we cannot play our remaining home games at Vicarage Road and the familiarity and advantage that brings,” he said on the club’s website.

“This against a backdrop of players who, having seen their lives turned upside down along with the rest of the world, are suddenly expected to perform as if nothing has happened, despite the rest of society probably still facing the kind of restrictions unenforceable on a football pitch.

“We have club medical staff working under conditions that no doctor or physio has ever experienced with guidelines that, in no small part, are based at this stage on supposition rather than scientific fact.

“And with all these compromises and health risks we are asked to finish a competition that bears no resemblance to the one we started, which could end a small club like Watford’s time in the Premier League.

“So is this fair? Does it have any semblance of sporting integrity? Of course not.”

West Ham chief executive Karren Brady says “clubs on the brink are understandably concerned about giving up home advantage” but believes everyone will “need to make compromises” – albeit not on the well-being of players and staff.

The Hammers chief has spoken to all their players to “assure them their health and well-being is our primary concern” and says there will be no compromises when it comes to playing games and, firstly, returning to training.

“If lockdown is lifted and Government and PHE (Public Health England) give us permission to resume non-contact training, there are to be new rules for players and staff,” Brady wrote in her column in The Sun.

“This includes not sharing cars, to limits through to the time a small group training session should last (75 minutes) and standing two metres away from each other. In this phase, tackling is prohibited but passing and shooting is allowed.

“We will also need to disinfect the corner flags, goalposts and even the grass – although how remains a mystery as that usually kills it.”


If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the East London Advertiser. Click the link in the orange box below for details.

Latest East London Sports News

Yesterday, 18:51

Simon Harmer showed glimpses of his 2019 form to snatch four wickets and set up a pulsating final day of Essex’s Bob Willis Trophy clash with Kent.

Yesterday, 09:00

With grassroots football stepping up preparations for the 2020-21 season, why not celebrate with another sporting quiz.

Yesterday, 09:00

A series of free FA podcast recordings can be accessed by Essex clubs and leagues so they can receive valuable financial advice and tips.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Essex opener Nick Browne’s half-century could not prevent Kent from maintaining their advantage in their Bob Willis Trophy contest.

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Jonny Bairstow put Ireland to the sword with a barnstorming 82 off 41 balls but England had to overcome a middle-order wobble before moving into an unassailable 2-0 lead in the Royal London series at the Ageas Bowl.

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Heino Kuhn became the first player to score a Bob Willis Trophy century as Kent recovered from a morning blip to dominate day one against Essex.

Saturday, August 1, 2020

West Ham United Women’s head coach Matt Beard says his team are ‘the fittest he’s ever seen them’.

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Arsenal, Tottenham and West Ham Women will find out their opening two fixtures for the new Super League season on Friday, the FA has confirmed.

PROMOTED CONTENT

The NHS Test and Trace system provides protection for family, friends, colleagues and the community, and is here to keep all of us safe and allow us to enjoy summer safely. We take a look at how the system is working and talk to one member of the thousands of team members about her experiences.

People are being encouraged to enjoy summer safely by exploring destinations closer to home. Taking a holiday in the United Kingdom offers people the chance to uncover some stunning scenery, wonderful attractions and superb accommodation without having to jump on a plane. Here, we take a look at the type of places you can stay, the rules you need to follow and how to enjoy a great staycation.

Summer is here and people from across the South East region can enjoy the many attractions that we have on our doorstep, as long as we follow UK Government advice and enjoy summer safely. There are plenty of places to go and things to do to suit every budget. Here is our guide to the numerous great days out.

Most read sport

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Docklands and East London Advertiser
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now

Most Read

Latest from the East London Advertiser