Report: Premier League to conclude season using neutral grounds

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According to various sources, if the Premier League gets government approval to restart the season, the remaining 92 games will be played behind-closed-doors at neutral grounds.

At a four-hour shareholders’ meeting today, clubs were given an update on ‘Project Restart’ which included the draft medical protocol (leaked to the press yesterday) and the need to abandon home and away fixtures to minimise fans congregating outside arenas.

According to ESPN, a number of factors will decide whether a stadium is eligible to be used including the ability to secure its perimeter and local COVID-19 infection rates.

It has also been calculated that as many as 40,000 coronavirus tests could be required to ensure players are tested regularly enough to prevent the spread of infection.

After the meeting, the Premier League, who are increasingly aware of the potential friction of over-egging football’s return, released a tentative statement regarding next steps:

At a meeting of Premier League Shareholders today, clubs discussed possible steps towards planning to resume the 2019/20 season, when it is safe and appropriate to do so.

It was reiterated that the thoughts of all are with those directly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Furthermore, the Premier League’s priority is the health and safety of players, coaches, managers, club staff, supporters and the wider community.

The League and clubs are considering the first tentative moves forward and will only return to training and playing with Government guidance, under expert medical advice and after consultation with players and managers.

The League welcomed the creation of the Government medical working group for a return of elite sport, which met for the first time this morning.

No decisions were taken at today’s Shareholders’ meeting and clubs exchanged views on the information provided regarding “Project Restart”.

It was agreed that the PFA, LMA, players and managers are key to this process and will be further consulted.

The clubs reconfirmed their commitment to finishing the 2019/20 season, maintaining integrity of the competition and welcomed the Government’s support.

The BBC report that the plans presented in the meeting were received well by clubs who will reconvene for another video conference on Friday 8 May, after the government has updated the country on the lockdown situation.

In a separate statement, the Premier League and EFL confirmed an end to this season’s Academy football:

Premier League Shareholders today unanimously agreed to curtail the 2019/20 Academy Games Programme. 

This decision, which is independent of any discussions regarding the resumption of the 2019/20 campaign for first-team football, has been taken to give Academy staff and their players clarity at this challenging time.

The curtailment will include all Under-9 to Under-16 games as well as the Under-18 and Under-23 competitions.

The methodology for determining the final league standings and outcomes for the season will be decided at a future date.

Additionally, it is intended that any fixtures for the 2020/21 Academy season will not commence any earlier than would usually be expected. 

The decision has been made with the support of the EFL, which oversees the programme for Category Three and Category Four Clubs (Under-9 to Under-18).

Having earmarked August for the conclusion of the Europa League and Champions League, Uefa has asked its members to confirm before 25 May whether their respective domestic leagues will be concluded.

The Premier League has not set a date for its return but it’s widely believed they want matches to start taking place from early June.

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Eiresown

I honestly thought the headline meant it was finishing the season on neutral grounds meaning we got Champions league on the 5 year rule thingamajiggy.

Eiresown

Burn

Lee

I miss football, I really do. And there’s no doubt this season needs to be completed – but the integrity of the competition is thrown out the window when two third of the games are home and away and the rest at neutral grounds – the whole thing is about an equal level playing field.

karl

It is all about financial survival. I think 12.5% is just the beginning of a big wake up call for players and agents.

Jeremy DG

Don’t hold your breath. Regardless of what people are commenting online, they will return in their droves as soon as they are allowed too.

karl

The point is I can’t see them being allowed to return at all this calendar year and most clubs will feel the pressure. Arsenal already intimated that the 12.5% might be renegotiated at some point in reaction to how events unfold.

Any business that spends up to 80% of turnover in wages will be on a knife-edge right now. Will Sky and BT even pay for matches the government want shown on free-to-air tv?

Eric Blair

Is it relevant when the stadiums are empty anyway?

I understand the desire to finish the season, for financial and sporting reasons, but I find all of this a little unedifying. I would say smaller clubs down the food chain are suffering more, perhaps the PL can donate half the money they would’ve lost if they hadn’t finished the season to those clubs? I can also sympathize with the players who must be feeling like circus monkeys right now, albeit ones being paid more than peanuts.

Sam

I understand the need to finish the season, the financial ramifications etc but 40000
Test kits as well as the PPE could go a long in assisting people who desperately need
Them, football is not an essential service,
It can wait.

atom

I get it’s not a major concern in the grand scheme of things but a huge number of football clubs including several PL teams will end up having to declare bankruptcy this summer if the season isn’t finished. I would think all future player contracts will have a clause to protect the clubs in case of something like this happening again, but as it stands players will still get paid even if clubs lose out on 25% of their annual revenue via the season not finishing.

Ali

They can be compensated.

Futsboller

The season should be ended now/six weeks ago, and all resources should be put toward starting the next season as healthily, safely, and financially soundly as possible. Any missteps now, and you risk the 2020-21 season, not to mention people’s lives and an absolutely historic lawsuit should anyone become ill as a result of these sporting endeavours.

Atom

It’s a very difficult situation. Realistically a lot of clubs will need players to totally forgo wages for games they don’t play as most don’t have billionaire owners.

loose_cannon

I’m a little surprised that people are talking about the 20/21 season when there’s little or no chance of a proper vaccine or treatment by then. Any and all plans the premier league make to start playing in June will almost definitely be applicable in September as well, including testing and PPE. If people are objecting to playing now because of resources being diverted away from people that need it, it will almost certainly be the same situation in September. Where it gets interesting is whether or not it’s actually any safer to play in September than it is to… Read more »

Futsboller

So you don’t think it would be wise to wait three more months before resuming sport in the interests of public safety, and if things are still not safe, to wait a few more months to start the 2020-21 season? Would three more months of vigilant avoidance and treatment not produce a better situation in which to resume the world of sport? Are we all not going to be a little better prepared in battling flu season with respect to personal hygiene and interactions in public space?

loose_cannon

Really good questions and I’m only giving my opinion here. I’d actually argue that if we can play again in 3 months time, the end of July/beginning of August, then the fairest thing to do would be to finish the current season then in a month or so. Now, from the perspective of public safety I’m not convinced it would necessarily be a better situation in 3 months time. Economies are currently reopening and that will lead to a rise in cases as we’ve recently seen in Germany. The WHO have also said there’s little sign of many people getting… Read more »

Homer

Smartest comment on this thread. And any others I’ve seen on this topic.

You win. Take a bow!

Pat Rice and Beans

Are you seriously saying that ‘several clubs’ in the richest football league would declare bankruptcy if the third of the season is not complete? I’m sorry, but it doesn’t make sense imho.

@sam you nailed it. The resources (eg tests) would be better spent in the society as whole.

Atom

The finances are pretty simple. Clubs pay 60-75 percent of their revenue on player salaries which are 100 percent guaranteed. The other 25-40 percent of their revenue goes to other expenses such as stadium/ staff/ transfers etc. Most clubs are run pretty close to break even. The issue is none of the major expenses go away if the season stops while 25-30 percent of the revenue does. Think about it like this – if you get fired you still have to pay your mortgage. Burnley has already said they won’t survive if the season isn’t finished.

Aaron

So, it’s a choice between MONEY(football clubs declaring bankruptcy) and LIFE (people suffering a disease which we don’t have a cure and affected health etc), I choose LIFE every freakin day of the year.
Sorry if I am being naive here, but football is a f*cking sport and clubs are basically a part of the entertainment business now. These are no way essential until we settle down to a reasonable amount of normalcy. France have shown the way and the rest of Europe should follow suit.

loose_cannon

There’s no easy answer here but what is a little surprising is how easily many are able to abstract away thousands of people potentially losing their jobs up and down the football leagues. The vast majority are in no way millionaires and could lose their livelihoods in the middle of the deepest recession ever. No good saying “it’s just money” when your mortgage is on the line! It very well may be necessary for many clubs to go bust in order to protect lives, we absolutely have to accept that but we shouldn’t be glib about it either. This isn’t… Read more »

Aaron

Though I agree to an extent but this is much larger than football, isn’t it? We are talking about mortgages of people working in the football industry and the plan is to ease that burden BUT what about swathes of people who are affected by other businesses such as travel/hospitality. Do we ease them all to get out of the potentially greatest depression till date and allow people to die? I know a vast majority are suffering with no conclusive end to this chaos but restarting football should be of no greater need than any other business if we are… Read more »

loose_cannon

The thing is governments around the world are currently making plans to tentatively ease the lockdown and reopen their economies. Germany already have and actually immediately saw an uptick in infections. They’re all aware of the risks but also understand that it’s not possible to continue as we are for much longer. Many are sadly having to choose between meals and paying rent, it’s not a sustainable situation. Maybe the thinking is that if more people return to work, they can better support those that cannot. So they’re making measures and contingencies, but it’s still inevitable that people will die.… Read more »

loose_cannon

To be clear I’m not advocating for one thing or another, just saying it’s a deeply complex situation.

atom

Aaron at some point people are going to have to have some difficult discussions about what life should look like going forward as there is not going to be a vaccine for Covid anytime soon. The whole point of social distancing was to keep the healthcare system from being overwhelmed & in most places the curve has flattened/ healthcare can handle the cases. At the same time it’s not realistic to continue to close the global economy either as we are now looking at Unemployment rates higher than during the Great Depression. If the view is we need to wait… Read more »

Runcorn Gooner

One of the main points is that it is all down to Government decision as mentioned.

Currently there is absolutely no way that the Government will give approval until they are absolutely and completely sure there will no chance of something going wrong.

This will probably mean that the season has ended because there cannot be a guarantee of safe conduct and should anything happen the public will come down on the government like a ton of bricks particularly as the feelings towards EPL players is hardly a good one over the wages they earn for doing nothing.

Ya Gooner

You have way too much faith in this government lol

Ya Gooner

And too much faith in the public to hold the government to account!

Runcorn Gooner

I just hope that they gauge general public opinion and follow the french (not necessarily confirming the final positions)
As you say I may have too much faith but only time will tell.
The one sure thing is that any of these desperate ideas to finish the season would have no atmosphere or enjoyment factor. It will be a box ticking exercise. Why bother? Oh I forgot it’s about the money.

mikelcollinz

Why does the league need to be completed exactly?? its a fucking game,people are hanging upside down with a ventilator rammed down there throats and these cnts want to play a match? for what?what a joke,im never spending a penny on the the premier league ever again,fuckn fools

Ya Gooner

Pretty disgusting considering the scope. 40000 test kits that could go to keeping the public safe.

Hurensohn

“It was reiterated that the thoughts of all are with those directly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, the Premier League’s priority is the health and safety of players, coaches, managers, club staff, supporters and the wider community.”

Yeh, it sounds like it. There will be fans gathering for matches on top of any risks they would introduce to people in and around squads and people needed to hold these games. Just look at how football spread this at the begining, not to mention the message it sends to the wider public.. “it’s over now, we can socialise”.. and so on.

Goontang

the Premier League’s priority is the health and safety of players, coaches, managers, club staff, supporters and the wider community.

OK then… cancel the season? Why is it even a question?

Twatsloch

I miss football!

Cultured Determination

“Furthermore, the Premier League’s priority is the health and safety of players, coaches, managers, club staff, supporters and the wider community.”

We wont even consider a season restart based on the above atatement….

The season should only restart when the government grants all other social activities acceptable.
– going bsck to work in offices
– allowed to go out with friends and social activities etc…

Idiots putting healthcare professionals at rism with added burden….

Hindheader

This is just too much of a risk. To sate fans need for a bit of sport and keep the money turning by any means? What is the point. This will only serve to distance professional footballers from the average Joe even further. everyone is in this together and everyone has responsibility to eachother.
end the season, come back for the next one if it’s safe

Tombo

They can blab on about health all they but this is all about money. Once again the Premier league arrogance and greed is exposed. Beyond farcical now. All this talk of furlough and bankruptcy yet in a month or so clubs will start bidding hundreds of millions on new players. I just hope we can maintain some ethical integrity through this otherwise its going to be very hard for me to enjoy football again.

Martyn

According to Karen Brady neutral grounds were not discussed yesterday. So much speculation, fake news etc. Let’s wait until we have something decided one way or another. The truth is no-one knows what’s going to happen tomorrow, let alone next week, next month, next year. As a passionate football fan, I’ve almost forgotten the game even exists anymore. As for transfers, just forget it. These are bleak times for all sport.

karl

There has never been a season I couldn’t be bothered about more than the current one from an Arsenal point of view. It feels like we need a fresh start with Arteta, but not allowing Leeds and Liverpool their moments seems to lessen the integrity of the competition.

Personally I think the first couple of matches with closed doors will be a novelty, but after that it will be half the event without fans.

Andy

Where are these neutral grounds? Do they actually have to be PL grounds? I assume not, as there will be no fans inside the ground. Goalposts and a reasonable playing surface would seem to be the only requirements. So how would the residents of Chester, say, feel about Tottenham and Arsenal playing there (largely pointless) derby there? Or Liverpool clinching the title in Grimsby? Regardless of the lockout the local pubs would be full of travelling supporters.

Goonertic

If you think that “lockdown” has been a long time……. It is 21 THOUSAND days since spurs last won the league!!!

Wie

40000 test kits and we here in Asia are dying without even tested

Benriz

“It has also been calculated that as many as 40,000 coronavirus tests could
be required to ensure players are tested regularly enough to prevent the
spread of infection.”

Yeah, Or you could just not restart the season and make those tests available to frontline NHS workers and the vulnerable first?

Why do you think other countries have voided their leagues?

Mark

As much as I miss sports of all kinds I just don’t know if it is right to start up any league with so much suffering and death still all throughout Europe as well as the US and all available resources and tests needing to go to the general population and not have disproportionate amounts allocated to athletes.