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More than half of Premier League clubs now oppose neutral ground plan

Richie McCormack
Richie McCormack

16:18 11 May 2020

The Premier League are to ask the UK government to dispense with the plan to play the remaining games of the season at neutral venues. 

The Times report that more than half of the Premier League's 20 clubs are now opposed to the idea.

Watford, Brighton and Aston Villa had already made their opposition to the plan public in recent days.

As many as twelve clubs are opposed to the use of neutral venues, as it would hurt potential sponsorship income from playing at their own grounds.

Initially it was felt the opposition came from only the bottom six clubs due to the threat of relegation, but there has been a groundswell of feeling against using between eight and ten neutral grounds.

The British government today paved the way for the top flight to resume in June, with professional sports - even behind closed doors - banned until June 1.

The UK government are believed to be open to clubs playing at their own grounds, but it would need to be okayed by police.

Authorities are worried that games behind closed doors would encourage fans to congregate outside, thus breaking social distancing rules.

The Independent report that voiding the 2019-20 season remains completely off the table.

UEFA have set a May 25 deadline for European clubs to decide how to end their seasons.

The Football Association told the Premier League clubs at today's meeting that the league must be decided "on sporting merit".

That means the remaining 81 games will either need to be played, or placings settled by a points-per-game ratio like that deployed in Ligue 1.

Watford chairman Scott Duxbury claimed at the weekend, "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."

The plan remains for the Premier League to resume on June 12.

Meanwhile, clubs have agreed to extend player contracts that were due to lapse on June 30.

It follows FIFA guidelines release last month to avoid a plethora of players finding themselves in contract limbo on July 1.

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