Graeme Souness believes it will be ‘very difficult to get everyone to agree’ to the Premier League’s restart plans as talks continue over a possible return to action.
Football remains suspended indefinitely amid the coronavirus crisis, though the official message coming out of the Premier League is that there remains a commitment to finishing the current season, providing a safe solution can be found with the division’s representative clubs.
One topic that has been discussed involves concluding the current season at behind-closed-doors neutral venues, though this idea has been met with opposition from several sides – including the likes of Brighton, West Ham and Watford – concerned over a lack of home advantage as they battle relegation this season.
Souness believes finding a solution that will appease all Premier League sides will prove ‘very difficult’ given the current circumstances, with each side ‘looking after their own houses’ during these unprecedented times.
“It’s going to be very difficult to get everyone to agree to it because everyone is looking after their own house right now. If the clubs are objecting to it, it’s because they feel it gives them less of a chance of staying in the Premier League,” Souness told Sky Sports.
“I think there’s a real argument for that. Teams near the bottom need every advantage they can possibly get. For Brighton, for example, who have five home games – although they’re against big teams – they’ll see playing at the Amex as an advantage.
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“I think it’s going to be very difficult [for an agreement to be reached]. If it goes to the vote, it will be very difficult to get it through. It comes down to money. We talk about the Premier League being awash with money, but if this really bites, some Premier League clubs could be in dire straits financially.
“It won’t just be the smaller ones who don’t have such a big budget, some of the bigger clubs will struggle because of the outlays they have. If you’re spending more than you’ve got coming in, ultimately you’re going to be in trouble and that’s the top and bottom of football.”
Souness added that the fine margins in terms of Premier League survival mean clubs are less likely to compromise on a solution, and warned there will be a ‘casualty’ regardless of the outcome of the league’s ‘Project Restart’ plans.
“When you’re down there, fighting for survival, you want to be playing teams who’ve got nothing to play for. They may have teams who have nothing to play for as the difference between winning and losing games can be very small margins.
“It’s hard to make a calculation. When Bournemouth finished the season brilliantly in the past, they played teams who didn’t have a lot to play for, but to get a majority on this will be very difficult.
“Whenever we get back playing… if we go back next month, unfortunately there will be a casualty. If we go back in two months, unfortunately there’ll be another casualty. It’ll be the same in three months. We have to manage it until there’s a vaccine and if we’re determined to get back to football, we’re going to have to take it on the chin.
“There will be times when we’ll be taking two strides forward, and we’ll take three back. That’s how I see it going forward. I’m not sure you’ll be able to get all the clubs to agree.”