Premier League clubs told neutral venues must be used to finish season

Premier League clubs have been told the remaining 92 matches of the 2019-20 season will have to be played at neutral stadiums for the campaign to finish.

All 20 clubs were on Friday presented with the league’s ‘Project Restart’ plans and were positively received, a statement following the conclusion of the meeting confirmed .

It is understood the remaining matches of the season would not be able to go ahead as planned on a home-and-away basis, and neutral venues across the country must be used for health and safety reasons. It is a plan similar to which the EFL are considering, as revealed by Standard Sport this week.

Clubs are expected to vote on the key principles of ‘Project Restart’ some time after May 7, when the Government must review the current UK lockdown.

Brighton chief executive Paul Barber said on Thursday that the idea of not playing matches home and away was a “further imperfection” on top of games being behind closed doors.

The UK national football policing lead, Deputy Chief Constable Mark Roberts of South Yorkshire Police, told the PA news agency on Wednesday that playing all matches in the Premier League and EFL at their original venues would “present challenges” for the emergency services at a time when they are already stretched.

It is understood there were still no discussions around declaring the season null and void or curtailing it, with France and Holland having been forced to end their competitions because of government orders.

The league is working with the Government on the restart plans and the first meeting took place on Friday between medical officials from sports governing bodies, including the Premier League’s Mark Gillett, and representatives from Public Health England.

Premier League inching closer to televised return behind closed doors

Return-to-training protocols, which include wearing face masks or snoods, were presented to clubs. Teams will consult with playing and management staff on the proposals, which are still subject to approval.

Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero is among players who have expressed their concerns about returning to action in the midst of the pandemic.

It is understood the league is still working towards a best-case scenario of play being able to resume from the week beginning June 8.

Further discussions will also be required on the subject of player status, particularly around temporary contract extensions for players whose deals expire on June 30 and those, such as Hakim Ziyech, whose registration starts on July 1.

Ziyech will join Chelsea from Ajax, who play in a league which has already been forced to end.

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