Scrapping relegation ‘only way to convince six clubs’ over Project Restart

Date published: Monday 4th May 2020 11:01

West Ham Coronavirus Premier League

Scrapping relegation could be the only way to convince six clubs to complete the Premier League season at neutral venues, according to reports.

A return to Premier League action in June is currently on the cards, ending what will have been a three-month absence of action for the English top flight.

The UK is on lockdown until at least May 7 but the Premier League is working on its ‘Project Restart’ to get the 2019-20 season finished, while the English Football League board and its clubs are also holding meetings on a regular basis.

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Oliver Dowden, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) told parliament last week that he is in discussions to get the Premier League “up and running as soon as possible in order to support the whole football community”.

He did add that any resumption was subject to public health guidance.

However, after another Premier League shareholders meeting on Friday, a number of clubs brought up concerns about holding matches at neutral venues with no home advantage.

And The Telegraph claims that a leading club executive has told them that ‘scrapping relegation might be the only way to convince struggling Premier League clubs to play the remainder of the season at neutral venues’.

The newspaper adds:

‘Brighton and Hove Albion, Watford, West Ham United, Bournemouth, Norwich City and, to a lesser extent, Aston Villa are all understood to be opposed to the plan, sparking concern that ­“Project Restart” is already doomed.

‘Discussions took place over the weekend about resuming matches, but lifting the threat of relegation, ­according to one executive, could at least convince the bottom three to fulfil their fixtures.’

It is not something that has been ‘formally discussed’ and there are concerns that it could create ‘an even greater backlash’ from sides out of relegation trouble.

‘With Liverpool already virtually certain to win the Premier League, the effective removal of the relegation battle would also erase much of the remaining competitive drama.

‘Another club source said that “a big fight” was brewing between those clubs who are already safe from relegation and those struggling at the bottom, who have cited concerns over sporting integrity if they cannot play at home again.’

Meanwhile, a source told the Daily Mirror that Newcastle United, Southampton, Burnley, Crystal Palace, Leicester and Sheffield United “were all very strong on finishing.”


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