May 13, 2020
The Premier League are reportedly a step closer to allowing clubs to use their home grounds to play out the remainder of the 2019/20 season, which could recommence next month. It would seem that there has been a softening in stance of police chiefs after positive talks between senior football figures, government officials and the police.
Previously, the Premier League Project Restart has revolved around playing the remaining 92 matches in 8-10 neutral venues. A number of clubs had come out in opposition of this, which seemed to be a good decision at the time but in reflection, and the fact the Bundesliga was going ahead in all stadiums, needed to change.
It is being reported by The Mirror that the Government are now open to allowing Premier League clubs to play remaining games in their home stadiums, which is something they would agree to. A statement released Deputy Chief Constable Mark Roberts, of South Yorkshire Police, on Tuesday outlined the view of the police, saying:
“Following a positive meeting between police, Government and football last night, we will be jointly exploring a range of options to identify a way forward, which minimises any risks to public safety and unnecessary pressure on public services, but facilitates a sensible restart to the season, to support the economic and morale benefits associated with the sport.”
It was previously suggested by DCC Roberts that there would be challenges in playing remaining fixtures at home stadiums, especially to the emergency services. The change in tone comes after Premier League clubs met on Monday, via video conferencing, confirming that they would rather player home games in their own stadiums.
There is seemingly opposition to this with London Mayor, Sadiq Khan talking about football returning to the capital. London is the hardest hit area of the country with the coronavirus at this moment in time which could mean there is more danger in the capital. In a statement from the Mayor’s office, Khan stated:
“With the country still in the grips of this crisis, and hundreds of people dying every day, he believes that it is too early to be discussing the resumption of the Premier League and top-flight sport in the capital.”
Currently, 32,692 people have died because of the coronavirus pandemic. These figures are based on the number of people who had died before Tuesday 12 May 2020. In London alone, 25,980 people have died which is 79% of the total of people who have died in the United Kingdom, so it could be that Project Restart is a little early but seems to be pressing on.
Further talks are planned for the resumption of the Premier League with the Government holding talks with the league on Thursday. There is expected to be a vote happening on Monday with all 20 clubs involved, which would then decide if Project Restart will commence or not. There are seemingly plans in place to curtail the season if this does not work.
It is a shame it has come to this. I am sure that if Liverpool are crowned as the Premier League champions with league positions taken into account at the time the league was suspended, clubs that miss out on their targets this season could seek to see if the curtailment of the season, if it comes to that, was lawful.
Some players in France seem to think that the Government suspending sporting events in France until at least September was too quick a decision to make with talks of legal action being mooted by clubs who have missed out because of their league positions at the time. I don’t think this is over, if the season is completed, normality might start to return.