Mayor of London Sadiq Khan tells the Premier League it is ‘too early’ to host matches in the capital again as he fears the extra burden football will put on the NHS
- The Premier League remains in talks with the Government over Project Restart
- But London Mayor Sadiq Khan says he is against staging games in the capital
- He stressed that it was ‘too early’ to be in discussions about the sport’s return
- London has been hit hard by the coronavirus although cases are coming down
- Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19
The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan says it is ‘too early’ for Premier League matches to be staged in the capital.
The English top flight are still in talks with the Government about Project Restart with aims of getting the season back on track on June 12 and a plan to stage games behind closed doors and in neutral venues.
But in the latest setback to proposals to complete the domestic campaign, Khan said he would be against games being played in London because the country was still ‘in the grips of this crisis’ with many people still dying from coronavirus.
Sadiq Khan is against staging Premier League games in London in June and says it’s too early
London has been hit particularly hard by the deadly disease, with fatalities in the thousands, and Khan stressed that, even though he wants to see his beloved Liverpool lift the title, the focus had to be on the NHS and the health of the nation.
His spokesman told the Evening Standard: ‘Sadiq is extremely keen for the Premier League and professional sport in general to resume.
‘However, 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.
‘As a Liverpool fan, Sadiq of course wants the Premier League to return, but it can only happen when it is safe to do so, and it cannot place any extra burden on the NHS and emergency services.’
The Mayor opposes matches in the capital, such as the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Despite being a Liverpool fan, Khan said it was crucial that a burden was not placed on NHS
He is concerned about an extra burden being place on emergency services during the crisis
Boris Johnson detailed in his blueprint to bring the UK out of lockdown that sports would be permitted to return from June 1 but that spectators may not be allowed until a vaccine is found.
However, a solid date for a Premier League comeback is yet to be earmarked as clubs continue to debate the best way for action to resume.
League chief Richard Masters said there was an ‘ongoing dialogue’ with Government and police about football’s return and that the matter was still a live topic among clubs – some of which are opposing a plan to finish the season at neutral grounds.
‘I think everybody would prefer to play home and away if at all possible,’ he said on Monday. ‘And I think it’s clear to see that some clubs feel more strongly about that than others.
‘It is an ongoing dialogue and obviously since Covid-19 became an issue we’ve been talking to the authorities about the conditions in which we could get the Premier League back up and running and taking all that advice on board.’
West Ham’s London Stadium is a contender to host neutral Premier League games in London
Premier League CEO Richard Masters said there was still an ‘ongoing dialogue’ about a restart
He said a number of clubs had argued that it may be easier to police their games at their own stadium rather than at a neutral venue.
‘I think some of our clubs would argue that in relation to policing their own fans that they have a good relationship with them, and that they encourage their own fans not to turn up outside their home venues while they’re playing behind closed doors, and they’re in a better position to control that, but it’s not a matter of convincing (the Government and the police), this has to be a decision that’s come to mutually.’
It is understood eight to ten ‘approved’ venues had been put to the clubs as the only safe way to complete the season – with West Ham’s London Stadium one of the contenders in a shortlist that also includes Wembley.
The head of the UK’s football police unit, Mark Roberts, has insisted the issue is ‘not a big deal’
Deputy Chief Constable Mark Roberts of South Yorkshire Police, the UK’s national football policing lead, had told clubs debating the fairness of neutral venues to ‘get a grip’ in a situation where thousands of people have died.
Roberts said: ‘We need to temper things. When you see people arguing the integrity is so important that ‘”we played them away and now it’s neutral” or “they had their fans and we can’t have ours”.
‘It might be a big deal in football terms, but in broader society where we have lost 30,000 people and growing that’s not a big deal.
‘Some people in football need to get a grip and recognise there’s a bigger picture here.’
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