The Premier League will ask the government to reconsider their neutral venues plan for concluding the season with 12 clubs now against the idea.
The current season was halted indefinitely in mid-March as the UK bid to combat the spread of the virus, though there has so far been a continued commitment to conclude the campaign if advised it is safe to do so.
Talks over a Premier League return gathered momentum this week with the government giving the go-ahead for professional sport to return behind-closed-doors from June 1 onwards, however, several obstacles still remain before plans can be finalised.
Several of the league’s lesser sides have met plans to play the season at neutral venues with opposition, with the Premier League’s bottom six particularly against the idea of losing home advantage during the relegation run-in.
According to the Times, all 20 representative clubs would prefer to play remaining fixtures at their own grounds, with as many as 12 now said to have ‘expressed their opposition’ over the neutral venue proposals.
Premier League executives have now responded by ‘agreeing to hold further talks’ with the government in a bid to reverse their decision, ahead of the next scheduled shareholder’s meeting on May 18.
The Premier League’s chief executive Richard Masters has opened up on the negotiations that will be held with authorities over playing remaining fixtures at individual home stadiums, with many clubs believing they would be in a better position to police games and minimise risk.
"When they win the title, there is a concern that thousands of Liverpool fans will turn up."
Will neutral venues prevent crowd congestion outside matches behind closed doors?
— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) May 10, 2020
He said: “It’s not a matter of convincing, because we need to listen to each other. Some of our clubs would argue that, in relation to policing their own fans, they have a good relationship, 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. It’s not a matter of convincing; this has to be a decision that’s come to mutually.
“As you saw with the broadcast from the government, it’s about avoiding the risk of large-scale social contact. Obviously it is people’s jobs and responsibilities to work out what the best way of managing the risk of supporters turning up outside matches, and that’s why we need to listen carefully to the advice.
“It’s about creating as little risk as possible in relation to fans coming to attend the matches outside a behind-closed-doors environment. Obviously from the authorities’ perspective, playing those matches at approved stadia is the safest way forward.”
Masters added that the push for fixtures to be played at home stadiums is a ‘unanimous’ view across the entire division and not solely the drive of the club’s currently struggling near the foot of the division.
“We have spoken to our clubs today about this,” he added. “I have said it’s a live topic and we will continue to discuss it. It’s fair to say that it is not an issue which is unique to any part of the league.”
Masters also revealed that ‘curtailment’ of the season has been discussed for the first time, despite no club having pushed for the campaign to be cancelled, authorities keen to discuss all potential eventualities amid the ongoing threat of the Covid-19 pandemic.
It was also added that no clubs have officially called for relegation to be removed should the season be able to be concluded, despite widespread reports and comments to the contrary in the media.
There is also the small matter of trying to convince players of their own safety.