Neutral venues back on the agenda as Premier League clubs set to discuss using a combination of grounds to allay police concerns at crucial Project Restart meeting on Thursday
- The Premier League season could be finished using a combination of venues
- A proposal to use ‘home/away and/or neutral venues’ is back on the agenda
- All 20 clubs are to discuss the idea at Thursday’s Project Restart meeting
- There will also be a vote on proposed financial settlement with the broadcasters
The Premier League season could be completed using a combination of home grounds and neutral venues in a dramatic new twist to Project Restart.
Sportsmail has learned that a proposal to use ‘home/away and/or neutral venues’ is on the agenda for the potentially decisive meeting of the 20 clubs this Thursday, when they will also be asked to provide approval in principle for the Premier League’s preferred resumption date, fixture list and plans for allocating league position in the event of curtailment.
There will also be a formal vote on a proposed financial settlement with the broadcasters.
Neutral venues are back on the Project Restart agenda ahead of Thursday’s crucial meeting
A combination of home and neutral grounds could be used to allay public order concerns
While a heated discussion over whether to the follow the EFL in using points-per-game to allocate places in preference to a weighted model had been expected to dominate Thursday’s meetings, the unexpected return of the neutral venues debate provides another potential source of disagreement.
The Premier League’s proposal to play all 92 remaining matches at neutral stadiums came close to killing Project Restart in its infancy last month before Tottenham and Chelsea led a revolt begun by the bottom six clubs to force a re-think, which was accepted by the Government.
Sportsmail has been told that the Premier League are now considering a hybrid model in which a handful of fixtures could be moved to a neutral venue in order to allay any lingering public order and safety concerns.
Whilst the majority of games would be staged on home grounds as planned certain high-risk matches could be switched to reduce the likelihood of fans congregating, and any potential flare-ups.
Liverpool’s tie with Crystal Palace could be played at a neutral ground should they win the title
Liverpool’s next two fixtures could fall into that category, as they are due to resume with the Merseyside derby at Goodison Park before a home game against Crystal Palace which could see them win the Premier League title.
But there are also potential issues for other clubs. The Metropolitan Police may not sanction Arsenal’s north London derby at Tottenham or Chelsea’s trip across the capital to West Ham given the historic enmity between those clubs’ fans, while Wolves’ visit to Sheffield United could attract a crowd given its impact on European qualification for next season.
This mixed model would present obvious question marks regarding the integrity of the competition, but could still be accepted as a compromise required to get the season finished.
Crucially, by maintaining the majority of home matches it would enable clubs to protect their commercial income, whilst alleviating fears of triggering mass gatherings. All the clubs contacted by Sportsmail on Sunday said they would wait to study the Premier League’s proposals in detail before deciding on their position, but did not dismiss it.
In addition to voting on the broadcasting settlement the clubs will also discuss how to sanction any breaches of the Government-approved training protocols, and whether to extend their financial support to the EFL beyond their existing solidarity and parachute payments.
Wolves’ visit to Sheffield United could attract crowd given impact on European qualification
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