Brighton and West Ham raise questions about neutral venues for the Premier League
Brighton has become the first English Premier League the club will publicly oppose plans to try to restart the season in neutral stadiums during the coronavirus pandemic.
As the COVID-19 death toll surpassed 28,000 in Britain, Brighton chief executive Paul Barber accepted that summaring sporting events would require compromises but said Saturday that the league's integrity would be damaged if teams couldn't play at home.
West Ham Vice President Karren Brady said no one wants neutral stadiums, but was not so forthright in her opposition to the league's Project Restart plan, given the need for authorities to approve the venues.
Using only up to half of the 20 stadiums is considered by the Premier League to be the most viable way to complete the season, which was suspended almost two months ago.
Police have also backed teams that don't play at home, even with no fans present, to prevent them from gathering outside stadiums. Supporters are likely to be barred from attending sporting events for many months in Britain to limit the spread of COVID-19 infections.
The Premier League, which held a conference call with all clubs on Friday, hopes that the team's training sessions can resume in a few weeks, but the games are unlikely to be played for at least another month.
Clearly, we must all be prepared to accept some commitments, Barber said, and we fully appreciate why playing behind closed doors is very likely to be a necessary commitment to play our remaining games while continuing to fully support the government's efforts to contain the spread of coronavirus.
But at this critical point in the season, playing games in neutral venues has, in our opinion, the potential to have a material effect on the integrity of the competition.
Barber said Brighton had not been approached about using its Amex Stadium, which is more isolated than the likes of Anfield, which is surrounded by rows of tightly packed houses in Liverpool. West Ham also has a venue that fans can be kept away from as it sits on the Olympic Park used for the 2012 Games.
El gobierno y la Autoridad de Seguridad de los Campos Deportivos tendrían que aprobar la ubicación de los juegos durante la pandemic.
They could argue neutral motives to better protect the well-being of everyone involved and reduce the burden on public services like the police and ambulance, Brady said. But like everything else, nothing has been agreed.
West Ham and Brighton are in a scrap to avoid relegation with nine games remaining. Brighton is two points and three places above the drop zone. West Ham is only out of danger due to a superior goal difference.
Barber highlighted how four of Brighton 's five remaining home games are against some of Europe's biggest clubs: Arsenal, Manchester United, leader Liverpool and defending champion Manchester City.
The disadvantages of not playing against the best teams in the league at our local stadium and in a family environment, even with 27,000 Albion fans unlikely to be present at the Amex, are very obvious, Barber said.
Clearly, we must accept that there may also be some benefit to playing our remaining four games in neutral locations, but the game list is simply not as balanced at this stage of the season, and we did not play our first 29 games of the season this season. way. So, in our opinion, one thing does not cancel the other.
Britain's national shutdown currently runs through Thursday, with the league waiting to see how the restrictions will be eased and if competition can restart now, the peak of the COVID-19 outbreak has passed.
Culture secretary Oliver Dowden , whose responsibilities include sports, said after speaking with leagues on Friday that he was working on compliant plans for Britons who desperately want the sport.
But Brighton striker Glenn Murray has expressed reservations about playing again soon given the risks of players spreading the coronavirus.
I understand that the public is desperate to get soccer back, but it is we who are going to go out and compete against other teams, Murray said. We are all in different situations, I have children at home, I would not want to put them in danger, some soccer players have newborn children who could be more susceptible to contracting the disease. Some live with elderly parents. It is really difficult situation to agree.
Isolated sessions at training grounds started last week at some clubs, including Brighton, for players to do individual fitness work. Phase two of the restart plan envisages group training be allowed again, then approval would be required for the restart of domestic fixtures.
The only common theme of all clubs is that any commitment must be fair and maintain the integrity of the game, Brady wrote in Saturday editions of the newspaper 'The Sun'. There is a long way to go from where we are now to play again. There are many obstacles to overcome and certainly many commitments to make.
Liverpool has a 25-point lead with nine games remaining.