Premier League clubs say neutral sites are key to plans to end the season


Premier League suspended since March 13

Neutral sites will be the only way to end the season, Premier League clubs announced in a video conference on Friday.

“Up to 10 stadiums” would be used to resume the 2019-2020 campaign.

The Premier League would also need 40,000 tests for players and staff if plans to play the 92 exceptional games behind closed doors are continued.

The clubs reiterated their commitment to resume the season “when it is safe and appropriate”.

The conference followed a separate meeting, hosted by Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden, involving medical experts from several sports organizations, government and public health in England, on “stepping up planning” for the eventual return of the sport.

Representatives of the UK Sport football, rugby, cricket, racing and funding associations were in attendance.

Dowden introduced the meeting and said elite sport would come back in camera “when, and only when, it is safe to do so on the basis of expert medical advice”.

BBC Sport understands that sports have accepted that returning to competition is going to be a “long and detailed process” and discussions at the conference on Friday were largely based on the resumption of training.

F1 officials also discussed the prospects for the British Grand Prix.

‘No decision taken’ at the Premier League meeting

The Premier League said in a statement that it “would only be training and playing with government advice.”

“No decision was made at today’s meeting and the clubs exchanged views on the information provided regarding the” restart of the project “,” the statement added.

“It has been agreed that the Professional Footballers Association (PFA), the League Managers‘ Association (LMA), players and managers are key elements of this process and will be further consulted. “

A major factor in the decision to use neutral sites is to try to reduce the chances of fans gathering, and the motives selected will be largely based on a note from the police and the Sports Grounds Safety Authority.

The clubs will also have to subscribe to a medical protocol, drawn up by the group of doctors of the Premier League and the medical adviser of the League, which will be gradually implemented as the situation evolves.

The Premier League has been suspended since March 13, but all clubs remain committed to playing the last 92 games of 2019-2020 and there has been no discussion on the cancellation of the season.

It is understood that, overall, the plans to restart the project have been welcomed by the clubs, but the elements that have been challenged will be dealt with.

The PFA and the LMA will be responsible for consulting stakeholders and managers.

There will be a club meeting after the government’s review of the lockout restrictions next week, but that will not happen on Thursday.

If training resumes before social distancing rules are relaxed, BBC Sport understands that players will be tested for coronavirus twice a week and would be screened daily for symptoms. All tests would be performed by health professionals at an NHS screening center accessible to motor vehicles to which each club would have access. The training grounds will be optimized for social isolation and high levels of hygiene.


  • Players must arrive on kit training grounds and wear masks at all times.
  • They should not shower or eat on site. If clubs want to provide food to players, it must be delivered to take away to players’ cars.
  • Only essential medical care would be authorized, with all medical personnel in full PPE.
  • All meetings and exams must take place virtually and off-site.

“An inevitable litigation”

Liverpool 25 points ahead of Premier League standings

The great sports lawyer, Nick de Marco, told BBC Sport that any decision made should be a “compromise” but “it is inevitable that there will be a dispute that will ensue.”

“It is impossible to reach a decision that will please everyone. Legal issues and of course health issues are the main determining factors at the moment, “added De Marco.

He said there were “four main legal issues” that would involve broadcasters, sponsors, clubs and individual players.

These could include value-for-money disputes if the season is not over, as well as disagreements over who gets the title, who is relegated, and who is promoted.

“There is also the fundamental health problem. What if players don’t feel like it’s safe to come back? ” he added.

De Marco also said there was a “very big problem” with the players’ contracts because “nothing prevents them” from retiring if it expires before the end of the season.

“You could have a player playing for a club one week and a rival next week,” he said.

“Change in behavior necessary”

Eva Carneiro as first doctor of the Chelsea team

Former Chelsea doctor Eva Carneiro told BBC Radio Four that “behavior change” is necessary when football returns.

“I think that it is possible to change the culture of sport and that requires rigorous implementation,” said Carneiro.

“To do this, you need the support of your governing body and this has not always been the case in football. “

Carneiro said that “close contact with footballers” during games, trips and training makes them “so much more likely to develop an infection”.

“I think there will be a lot of fear. It will not be held by very different practices, ”she added.

“The evidence base for this virus is in its infancy. We know very little about it, so being able to provide safe feedback is going to be a huge challenge and I think we need time. “

Carneiro added that doctors will need training in infection control while “quick and effective tests” will be “the key” to a safe return.


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