PROJECT RESTART: LMA Chief Highlights Importance Of Neutral Venues

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PROJECT RESTART: LMA Chief Highlights Importance Of Neutral Venues

League Managers Association chief executive Richard Bevan has warned the season could be cancelled if clubs did not agree to play at neutral venues.

When asked if clubs voted against playing at neutral venues would lead to the season being cancelled, Bevan told BBC Radio 4: “Yes, I think that probably is correct.”

“The Government, if they haven’t already, will be making it clear that home matches with densely populated stadia really puts into question whether social distancing rules can be adhered to and without a doubt that will be on the voting next Monday with the clubs.”

Bevan said there was no suggestion players or managers were being coerced into a restart and that plans to ensure safety – including testing procedures – would be outlined to players and managers next week.

Aston Villa has joined Brighton and West Ham in publicly opposing the idea of completing the Premier League season at neutral venues as chief executive Christian Purslow warned clubs would not support measures that increased the risk of the “£200million catastrophe” that is relegation.

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It is understood that Premier League clubs have been told the only way to complete the season is for the remaining 92 matches to be played at neutral venues, but Purslow said that would punish clubs like Villa.

“Personally I’m against it,” Purslow said on talkSPORT. “We’re a club that prides itself on home form. Two-thirds of our wins this season have come at home.

“We’ve got six home games left to play and I think any Villa fan would agree that giving up that advantage is a massive decision for somebody running Aston Villa and I certainly wouldn’t agree to that unless those circumstances are right.”

Villa, having played a game less than those around them, sit in the relegation zone as things stand, two points behind West Ham who are outside the bottom three on goal difference, with Brighton a further two points better off in 15th place.

Purslow said discussions around Project Restart are hugely complicated, likening them to the Brexit debate because though there is consensus that football should resume as soon as it is safe to do so, there is no clear answer on how to do it.

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And he said that while the day-to-day financial losses due to the shutdown were greater at the top end of the table, for those near the bottom the implications were far greater.

“At the bottom end of the table there’s a much smaller revenue base, but the risk of relegation is probably a £200million catastrophe for any club that mathematically could still go down,” he said.

“When you say to any club, ‘We want you to agree to a bunch of rule changes that may make it more likely that you get relegated’, they’re not thinking about TV money, they’re thinking, ‘My goodness, am I going to agree to something that results in me being relegated and losing £200million?’”

Football 365