Premier League agenda as all 20 clubs prepare for season-defining meeting

Premier League clubs will hold crunch talks on Thursday over a huge TV headache.

They face having to pay back £340million to broadcasters even if they finish the season and a staggering £762m if they cannot complete the 92 fixtures.

Premier League bosses are hoping to offset the huge potential costs with Sky, BT Sport and Amazon with a “strategy for rebate minimisation” and “enhancements” to the current broadcasting package.

That would mean more games, showing back-to-back games at weekends, Champions League style double headers in midweek plus discussions on dressing room access, half time interviews and extra camera angles in empty stadiums.

It is likely to be the most important item on the agenda for Thursday’s crunch meeting with the 20 clubs.

They will also look to set a return date with the Premier League originally wanting June 12 with managers pushing for June 26.

They could compromise on the weekend of June 20-21 with Sky set to show Tottenham's clash with Manchester United as their first live game back which could be on Friday June 19 – otherwise they will try to keep Fridays clear for the EFL.

The agenda, which has been seen by Mirror Sport , will also discuss stadiums with the Premier League hopeful games will be staged in their own stadiums but neutral grounds are still on the table.

Clubs are braced for the most important meeting in Premier League history.

The video session starts at 10.30am and is expected to drag out long into the afternoon with a back-up plan also on the agenda in case the season is curtailed.

The restart date is still a sticking point even after the clubs unanimously voted through phase two of contact training.

They fear that, after such a long lay-off, they will need more time to get match fit.

Source: Read Full Article

Liverpool stars handed boost as Premier League gives contact training go ahead

Liverpool stars ramped up their training regime on Wednesday after the Premier League confirmed that full contact will now be allowed.

The Premier League champions elect recently returned to training at Melwood but were adhering to strict guidelines put in place to ensure safety – one of which was maintaining social distancing protocols.

Jurgen Klopp's side are just a matter of points away from sealing a first top-flight title in 30 years.

And they seemed in the mood at Melwood as the likes of Virgil van Dijk, Roberto Firmino and Adam Lallana all appeared in high spirits during a session in the Merseyside sunshine.

The session came after the Reds and their fellow Premier League clubs voted unanimously to resume contact training, as 'Project Restart' took a giant step forwards.

After starting with small, socially-distanced training sessions, players and managers from the 20 top-flight clubs were briefed on proposals for the reintroduction of contact training on Wednesday.

The matter was voted on the following day by Premier League shareholders and has been given the green light as a mid-June return edges closer.

In a statement, the league said: "Premier League shareholders today voted unanimously to resume contact training, marking another step towards restarting the Premier League season, when safe to do so.

"Squads are now able to train as a group and engage in tackling while minimising any unnecessary close contact.

"The Premier League's priority is the health and wellbeing of all participants.

"Strict medical protocols are in place to ensure the training ground is the safest environment possible and players and staff will continue to be tested for Covid-19 twice a week.

"Stage Two of the Return to Training protocol has been agreed following consultation with clubs, players, managers, the PFA, LMA and the Government.

"Discussions are ongoing as work continues towards resuming the season, when conditions allow."

Liverpool are 25 points clear of second-place Manchester City having played a game more.

Sign up to the Mirror Football email here for the latest news and transfer gossip.

Source: Read Full Article

PL’s TV plan includes back-to-back games and Champions League style format

Premier League games will return with a TV bonanza for armchair viewers.

It could see five matches shown live back-to-back every Saturday and the same on a Sunday with kick-offs starting at 12 noon, then 2pm, 4pm, 6pm and 8pm.

The Premier League are planning to get the majority of the remaining 92 games shown over the course of weekends to complete the fixture list which would mean the season runs into August.

But there is also a push from broadcasters to show games midweek in a Champions League style double-header format which could see them kick off at 6pm and 8pm.

The fixture list will be discussed in detail at Thursday’s Premier League meeting along with the plans for TV schedules as they want to find a balance between finishing the season quickly but to also spread out games for TV and to help clubs avoid injuries with a overcrowded fixture list.

Clubs are keen to accommodate the broadcasting demands as they face huge bills of £340m to pay back to TV companies even if the season is completed and a staggering £762m if they cannot play the remaining games.

The Premier League have got a “strategy for rebate minimisation” on Thursday’s agenda which means they will try to keep live rights holders Sky, BT Sport and Amazon happy.

Government officials have urged the Premier League to make some of the games free-to-air on terrestrial TV but the idea of BBC getting live games is unlikely to go down well with Sky and BT.

Sky and BT have the live rights to 47 games, the remaining 45 – which would all be shown by foreign rights holders – would be shared with Sky getting 32, BT would get eight, five to Amazon and the BBC.

Sky and BT Sport will be anxious to ensure that any subscribers who paused or cancelled during the coronavirus return with the promise of a bonanza of live football.

They are also likely to factor in the outstanding games as Manchester City have a game in hand against Arsenal and Aston Villa also have an extra game against Sheffield United.

The Football Association will also be determined to play out the FA Cup with all games set to be shown live and most could be played behind-closed-doors at Wembley.


Source: Read Full Article

Where all 20 Premier League clubs stand on season tickets and fan refunds

The 2019-20 Premier League season would ordinarily have been completed by this stage of the year.

But, unfortunately, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has caused an unprecedented delay.

Last week, players from clubs up and down the country returned to training ahead of a projected mid-June, behind-closed-doors restart.

This week, they have been given green light to resume contact training by the Government.

However, it is still unknown when it will be safe to allow spectators to return to Premier League grounds en masse, thus leading many clubs to refund their season ticket holders for the remainder of the 2019-20 season.

Here is a club-by-club guide on what course of action has been taken regarding season ticket refunds by all 20 sides.

Arsenal

Football being played at the 60,000-seater Emirates Stadium without fans will be a strange sight, but that looks to be the case for the remainder of the campaign.

The club are yet to confirm whether they intend to refund supporters who had purchased a season ticket and will no longer be able to see the remaining four home games of 2019-20.

Interestingly, Arsenal ’s website indicates: “The Club reserves the right to reschedule any Match or, if necessary, play the Match out of view of the public, without notice and without any liability whatsoever,” which sheds some light on whether refunds may or may not be forthcoming.

Aston Villa

Aston Villa supporters could find themselves refunded almost a third of the value of their season ticket if the season resumes behind closed doors; Villa fans were supposed to witness six more home games this term.

The club’s official stance has not alluded to a wholesale refund as of yet, but that supporters can apply for refunds for individual match tickets purchased.

Bournemouth

Unlike Arsenal and Aston Villa, Bournemouth ’s matchday revenue is the lowest in the top flight, owing to the club’s 11,329 capacity Vitality Stadium.

The club were one of the sides who initially opposed plans for matches to be played behind closed doors.

Bournemouth do appear to have offered a ‘payment holiday’ to some season ticket holders, according to the BBC, and have temporarily suspended renewals for next year.

Brighton and Hove Albion

The Seagulls’ official stance on Project Restart was the strongest in the league, with Paul Barber, the club’s chief executive, slamming plans to resume the season behind closed doors.

As it appears to be becoming more of a possibility, Brighton have reneged on their original stance and have also offered season ticket holders the opportunity to postpone imminently due season ticket payments.

Speaking to local paper The Argus, Barber said that only “about 5-6 percent have taken advantage of that,” with most happy to pay for the remainder of the season.

Burnley

One of the clubs to officially announce their fans will receive refunds is Burnley. Turf Moor was set to play host to Watford, Brighton, Wolves and Sheffield United before the season’s end.

On the club website, a statement reads: “We are able to confirm that all supporters with tickets for the Clarets’ remaining 4 home Premier League fixtures of the 2019/20 season and the away fixture at Manchester City, which was scheduled for March, are now entitled to a full refund.”

Chelsea

Frank Lampard’s Blues sit in fourth place, trailed by the likes of Manchester United, Wolves and Sheffield United in the race for Champions League places.

As per the club’s official website, Chelsea intend to refund paying customers for any games which are subsequently played behind closed doors.

Crystal Palace

Selhurst Park plays host to one of the loudest and fervent fanbases in the country. But Palace wil have to go without for their remaining clashes with Spurs, Manchester United, Chelsea and Burnley.

The club insist supporters will be “updated at the first possible opportunity on cpfc.co.uk, the official Palace app and across our official social media channels.”

Everton

Goodison Park could have been the ground where Liverpool claimed their first Premier League title in front of their biggest rivals.

That will not be the case, at least not with spectators present.

Everton have announced that season ticket holders will either be credited or refunded the cost of the remaining five home matches they are now unable to attend. The club have also given fans the option to donate their refund to charitable venture Everton in the Community.

Leicester City

Brendan Rodgers side are chasing qualification for the 2020-21 UEFA Champions League.

While Leicester fans will no longer be able to see their side in action in person, they will be refunded for the cost of their outstanding home fixtures. The club have also given fans the option to put any refund towards a season ticket for next year’s campaign.

Liverpool

After a 30-year wait for a league title, Liverpool will have wanted to lift the Premier League trophy at a packed Anfield. Sadly, this opportunity has been taken away.

The party atmosphere on Merseyside matchdays may no longer be possible, but the club are willing to refund match-going supporters for games they will now be forced to watch on TV.

Liverpool have also opted to freeze season ticket prices for next year.

Manchester City

Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City side have little left to play for in the Premier League, other than to ensure second spot is theirs.

For all of the club’s six remaining home games, City supporters have been informed they will be refunded in full, or if they choose, put the refund towards next season’s ticket.

Manchester United

With the largest stadium capacity in the Premier League, Manchester United stand to lose a considerable portion of their annual matchday revenue by refunding season ticket holders.

Nevertheless, that is precisely what the club intend to do, releasing a statement to supporters: "We are committed to refunding ticket costs for these games and want to make the process as easy as possible for all supporters."

Newcastle United

A prospective takeover of Newcastle United has fans biting their fingernails and salivating at the prospect of a nouveau-riche Toon Army.

However, word on whether they will receive refunds for games to be played behind closed doors has not been forthcoming.

Fans have also been charged for next season’s games, according to the BBC.

Norwich City

The Canaries are the Premier League’s basement club at present, occupying 20th place.

Norwich were due to play five games at home between March and May, and fans have been informed they will receive refunds on a pro-rata basis for the games which they are now unable to attend.

Sheffield United

Chris Wilder’s Blades have enjoyed a fantastic return to the top flight, currently enjoying the heights of seventh place and a shot at European qualification.

They are one of the few clubs yet to announce their intentions for supporter refunds. However, the club is not selling next year’s season tickets while uncertainty remains over the global situation.

Southampton

Ralph Hasenhuttl and his Saints side were due to play host to the likes of Arsenal and Brighton before the season’s end.

According to the BBC, the club are awaiting confirmation from the league before issuing a statement on 2019-20 season ticket refunds. They have urged fans who use a third-party finance provider to pay for season tickets to consult those companies directly.

Tottenham Hotspur

Spurs fans were looking forward to a North London derby and a visit from Manchester United before the mass postponement.

A statement on the club’s website indicates refunds will be issued, however a refund must be explicitly requested or the cost will go towards a season ticket for next year.

Watford

Nigel Pearson took over the Hornets just a few months ago but looks to have steadied the ship at Vicarage Road.

The club were opposed to Project Restart’s notion of neutral venues but as yet, they have not outlined whether season ticket refunds will be issued.

Source: Read Full Article

Coronavirus: Government guidance gives green light for contract training when sports are ready

Professional sport has nudged a further step closer to a resumption after the government published ‘stage two’ of its guidance which enables competitive and close-contact training.

The guidance, published in conjunction with public health officials and sports medical officers, allows for organised, close-contact training, under carefully controlled medical conditions.

The advice is geared towards establishing the conditions for stage three of the process, which is expected to be achieved next month with a resumption of sports, including Premier League matches, behind closed doors.

Download the new Independent Premium app

Sharing the full story, not just the headlines

The guidance makes it clear that the close contact training for elite athletes can include close quarters coaching and tackling in team sports so that players can get match fit.

Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston said: “This new guidance marks the latest phase of a carefully phased return to training process for elite athletes, designed to limit the risk of injury and protect the health and safety of all involved.

“We are absolutely clear that individual sports must review whether they have the appropriate carefully controlled medical conditions in place before they can proceed, and secure the confidence of athletes, coaches and support staff.

“Given the wide ranging input we have received from medical experts, we believe these pragmatic measures should provide further reassurance that a safe, competitive training environment can be delivered, as we work towards a restart of professional sport behind closed doors when it is safe to do so.”

Premier League football clubs resumed non-contact training last week while other sports, including sailing and taekwondo, have started the process of returning to action in socially-distanced environments.

However, there remains some reluctance, with a number of football players, including Watford captain Troy Deeney and Chelsea’s N’Golo Kante, citing health concerns in their respective decisions not to return.

Some Olympic and Paralympic sports, notably those housed at multi-sports centres such as the English Institute of Sheffield, are yet to determine when they will be able to return to action.

The government published phase one of its guidance on May 13, outlining the conditions for an initial return to training subject to a series of strict social-distancing regulations.

It stressed that the decision to implement the latest guidelines will be the responsibility of the respective sports bodies and clubs, in consultation with athletes, coaches and support staff.

The current social-distancing rules will continue to apply during travel to training, equipment-sharing will be avoided where possible, and communal areas will mostly be expected to remain closed. PA

Source: Read Full Article

Tom Cleverley issues ‘integrity’ warning over Premier League restart

Tom Cleverley reckons the Premier League’s integrity will be called into question if clubs such as Watford lose big players like Troy Deeney for the run-in over coronavirus concerns.

Former Liverpool and England star Jamie Redknapp claimed last week that the withdrawal from training of more players like Deeney and Chelsea ’s N’Golo Kante will lead to ‘unfair competition’.

And Watford midfielder Cleverley said: “I saw what Jamie was talking about and it makes sense.

“If you are missing five or six of your players through personal circumstances, it’s going to hit us hard and it does affect the integrity of the competition.

“You can’t really just say, ‘That’s bad luck, get on with it,’ when so much is at stake.

“But the players have just got to take it day by day.

“Hopefully, if the league does continue, we’ll have all our best players and a full-strength squad to pick from.

“If it’s not the case, then we will have to deal with it — it’s got to be a no-excuses mentality from now until the end of the season.”

Deeney refused to return to phase-one training last week over fears of catching the virus and passing it on to family members, including his five-month-old son who has had breathing difficulties.

But Cleverley will have no qualms about telling him he feels every bit as safe at training as he does in his every day life after reporting back to the Hornet’s Hertfordshire HQ.

He added: “I don’t know what stance Troy is taking, whether he has ruled out playing or if he’s one of those who comes under the ‘let me see how safe it is first, then I’ll return’.

“I don’t think we should create much anxiety that we are going to miss him for games just yet.

“He’s a fitness freak anyway and there’s absolutely no problem that he’s taken the decision to maybe watch from arm’s length for the minute.

“There have been a couple who have had doubts and players are slowly starting to filter back.

“You have to respect their decisions and if they wanted the opinions of other players about how it’s going to make them feel more comfortable, I would be positive about it.

“I would say I have come into contact with as many people as I would going to the supermarket or going for a morning jog around my estate.”

If, or when, the Premier League does return, it will do so with Watford fourth from bottom but ahead of 18th-placed Bournemouth on goal difference alone and in a real relegation battle.

But if Watford do go down then, whatever the circumstances, Cleverley insists there will be no complaints from himself or any of his team-mates.

He said: “If the worst comes to the worst, it’s because we’ve not been good enough as a squad.

“Even if you were missing two or three through anxieties, that’s why you have a 25-man squad and as a squad we would not have been good enough over 38 games.”

Source: Read Full Article

6 of the most extravagant gifts from Premier League stars to their loved ones

It’s no secret that Premier League footballers, especially those at top six clubs, come into a lot of money very early in their careers.

This can make them easy targets for certain people, but can also lead to heartwarming stories, as we’ve witnessed with Brandon Williams.

The Manchester United teenager, who made his first team debut this season and signed a new long-term deal in October, surprised his dad earlier this week by buying him a Mercedes for his birthday.

Here are a few more examples of other footballers buying eye-catching gifts for their loved ones in recent times.

Raheem Sterling

Sterling is close with his mother, and showed his appreciation for everything she has done by buying her a new £2.5m house, and he has emphasised just how important it was to him.

Sterling grew up in the London borough of Brent, after moving over from Jamaica with his mother as an infant, and used to help his mum clean toilets when he was a child.

“My whole mission was to get a proper contract so that my mother and sister didn’t have to stress anymore,” Sterling wrote for The Players Tribune in 2018, recalling how his family was forced to move around a lot when he was growing up.

“The day that I bought my mum a house, that was probably the happiest I’ve ever been.”

Michael Owen

Owen, who was born in Chester and went to school in Wales, spent £750,000 on an entire row of houses for his family back in 2001 so they could live near him near the England-Wales border.

The properties, in north Wales, were bought for the then-England striker’s parents, sisters and brothers.

All the houses were on the same street, just a stone’s throw from his place at the time, in Flintshire. Despite playing his club football for Liverpool, he lived a short hop over the border.

Marcus Rashford

The Manchester United forward is another to have bought a house for his mother, joking that it was a way to make sure he didn’t get told off for playing football indoors.

“You’re going to get me in trouble here! But I think it’s something we all do. Anyone who loves football – when there’s a ball in front of you, it’s hard not to kick it,” he told FourFourTwo.

The England striker, who was still 18 when he broke through for club and country and only turned 22 at the end of last year, still lived with his mother when his United and England career began, and the change has only happened relatively recently.

Sadio Mane

Mane’s mother and other members of his family still live back in Bambali, the Senegalese village in which he grew up, and he has regularly given back to his mum and her close-knit community.

In 2018, he sent 300 Liverpool shirts back home ahead of the Champions League final, in which he scored against Real Madrid.

He also funded a school in the village, as well as a hospital which is due to open this year: when Mane’s father died, he had to be taken to another town for treatment, and the forward said the circumstances around his father’s death have played a part in the work he has done and continues to do back home.

David Beckham

If you’re as successful as Beckham on and off the field, you can be creative with your gift-giving, and that’s certainly true of a 2008 present he bought for wife Victoria’s birthday.

Was it a car? No. A house? Guess again. He forked out on an entire vineyard.

According to CBS News, the vineyard is located in California’s famous Napa Valley, and was purchased during Beckham’s spell playing for LA Galaxy in MLS.

It reportedly set the former England midfielder back seven figures.

Leroy Fer

Before moving to the Premier League, Dutch midfielder Fer was at the centre of a viral story about a gift he bought for his girlfriend Xenia – specifically a €30,000 horse, which would have been a lovely present… if only she didn’t live in an upstairs flat.

However, as he would later reveal, he bid for it at an auction without actually expecting to win.

“Xenia wasn’t with me, so I called her and said: ‘Babe, I bought you a horse.’ I had to repeat it. She’s into horses, I joked with her before that I was going to buy her one. But she couldn’t believe it when I phoned,” Fer told The Guardian.

“Thankfully, about 10 minutes later, someone came up to me and said: ‘Do you really want that horse?’ I said: ‘Nah, I was just fooling around.’

He offered to buy it off me for €35,000, so I made a bit of money. But for 10 minutes I was thinking: ‘S***, I’ve got a horse. Where shall I leave it?’”

Source: Read Full Article

Liverpool chairman says Covid-19 vaccine may be only way fans return to Anfield

Liverpool chairman Tom Werner believes fans may not return to Anfield – and grounds across the country – until a vaccine for coronavirus has been found.

Werner also reasserted his club's stance on finishing the Premier League season and said it would be "good for the country" for football to return.

Liverpool players resumed training on Wednesday after two months away from their Melwood ground.

The league-leaders took part in small group sessions in line with the Premier League's regulations to protect against the spread of coronavirus.

But while English top-flight football is scheduled to return behind closed doors next month, fans may not be able to support their team in the flesh until 2021.

And Werner believes the discovery of a vaccine is key to ensuring supporters can attend matches.

"The more important thing is if we can figure out a way to get these matches played because I think it would be good for the country," he said.

"The most important thing is safety. I do think the protocols that the Premier League are working on as somebody said its probably safer to play behind closed doors than to go to a supermarket.

"It's a terrible situation we're all in. Someday, hopefully, there will be a vaccine and we can return to the joy of being in a stadium and watching the elegant play of great football players."

Werner also discussed Liverpool's controversial decision to place a number of non-playing staff on the government's furlough scheme shortly after the UK went into lockdown.

Source: Read Full Article

Coronavirus: Manchester United captain Harry Maguire feels safe on return to training

Manchester United captain Harry Maguire has said he felt “so safe” on his return to training at the club’s facilities in Carrington on Wednesday.

The season was halted in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic but clubs can now train in small groups as part of the Premier League’s ‘Project Restart’, which envisages a return to play in June.

“It’s been a strange few months, but it has been a protocol which the club has followed. It seems such a safe environment,” centre back Maguire, 27, told the club’s website.

Download the new Independent Premium app

Sharing the full story, not just the headlines

“It’s our first day back today, but it seems so safe and everyone is respecting it so well, so long may that continue and I’m sure no one will have any problems.”

The league confirmed on Tuesday that six people from three different clubs had tested positive for COVID-19.

Maguire believes United are going to great lengths to ensure the well-being of players and staff, with temperature checks carried out each morning and training conducted in 30-minute slots, with a different coach in charge of each segment.

“The safety, it seems really well organised. Like you said, we all got tested before we came in, so everyone in the changing room has a negative test,” the England defender added.

“There are a lot fewer people at the training ground. Today I was in a group of four, working with one coach, so not many people.”

“It’s the first step. We’re in phase one, let’s get through this phase without any troubles. It’s only the first day, but it’s been a good start for me.”

Manchester United were fifth in the Premier League with 45 points, three behind fourth-placed Chelsea when the season was suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Source: Read Full Article

Premier League chief’s Bundesliga admission as clubs bid to finish season

Richard Masters says the Bundesliga has given the Premier League new belief the season will get finished.

German football became the first major European league to restart since lockdown and the 20 top flight English clubs have now voted to follow suit by beginning the first phase of non-contact training on Tuesday.

Premier League chief executive Masters said: “The Germans are a couple of steps ahead of us obviously and we can learn from them and watch them and take confidence from their success.

“I think starting the league, watching it being played out and seeing the quality of football and observing the package from behind closed doors, how it was broadcast was really helpful for the Premier League and our other European leagues’ colleagues.

“That is helpful and it does add confidence that it can be achievable in this country.”

Players will be given the green light to return to training from 2pm on Tuesday as the first batch of coronavirus tests come through and the Premier League say they will publicly announce the number of positive results.

They are also going to extraordinary lengths to ensure that clubs observe the strict training protocols which include a maximum of 75 minute sessions in the first phase as they will use GPS technology and inspectors to enforce the rules.

Premier League chief executive Richard Garlick said: “We can request information from videoing of the sessions and GPS data, too.

“We are also looking at bringing in our own independent audit inspection team that we’ll scale up over the next few days which will give us the ability to have inspections at training grounds to start with on a no-notice basis.”


The Premier League will hold two meetings next week.

The first, on Tuesday, when second phase of training may get the green light and next Thursday, when they could take a vote about a potential return to games with June 12 still the start point – but that seems certain to get pushed back.

Source: Read Full Article