The top six Premier League clubs today warned the rest of the top flight that voting to curtail the season for health reasons could set a precedent that would lead to the 2020/21 campaign also being dropped.
In a longer-than-usual conference call of the 20 clubs that lasted nearly four hours, a clear divide emerged between the biggest clubs and the rest, many of whom had reservations about the Premier League restart plan than resuming the season next month played with matched on a limited number of neutral grounds.
Sportsmail has learned that the meeting ended with a rallying cry from Premier League officials who emphasized their determination to end the season, with a provisional start date of Friday, June 12, but only after a series of disagreements.
Top six are concerned that ending this season could set a precedent for the 2020-21 stoppage
All 20 clubs were involved in a four-hour conference call on Friday to discuss Project Restart
Representatives from several top six clubs would have made the point that delaying resumption until a vaccine for Covid-19 was found would almost certainly lead to cancellation next season, as that breakthrough could last up to 18 months, a drastic step that can bankrupt the entire sport and other related industries.
The Premier League will hold another meeting next Friday, which could lead to a vote by the clubs on whether to return the day after the government will publish their lockout exit strategy.
The clubs eager to resume also argued that many of their rivals’ legitimate health concerns, such as the danger of the virus transferring between players and the safety concerns of crowds gathering outside closed stadiums, are likely to come later will apply in the year.
Hopes of finding a vaccine could lead to an 18-month suspension of competition action
As a result, they argued that if a way could be found to keep training and matches safe with government blessings, they should do it as soon as possible while emphasizing that the safety of players and staff was their priority.
The Premier League remains committed to completing the campaign and informs clubs of their plans to ensure they can do so, including detailed returns to training protocols and resumption plans. The Premier League wants to complete the existing game list as it looked before the shutdown, but with all games taking place at five or six regional hubs.
Rather than using Wembley or St George’s Park, as discussed, preference has been given to using a select number of Premier League stadiums, although clubs should not be allowed to play on their own grounds to avoid gaining an advantage.
Despite clear division, the meeting ended with a rallying cry before the restart date of June 12
The Premier League has commissioned an investigation to identify lands most likely to be considered ‘biosafe’, focusing on areas outside densely populated areas such as Amex Stadium near Brighton, Southampton’s St Mary’s, London Stadium which are fairly isolated when the adjacent Westfield shopping center is closed and the Etihad Stadium on the outskirts of Manchester.
However, the proposal to use neutral locations is one of the most controversial elements of Project Restart, with clubs most at risk of being demoted because they are unwilling to sacrifice home edge for crucial games that can cost them £ 200m go down.
Other issues discussed in depth included the importance of limiting spitting during both training and matches, leading to one suggestion to turn it into a yellow card.
The Premier League is committed to completing the season while maintaining the competition
In a statement, the Premier League confirmed that they are committed to completing the season while maintaining the integrity of the league.
“At a meeting of Premier League shareholders today, clubs discussed possible steps to resume the 2019/20 season, when it is safe and appropriate to do so,” it said.
It was reiterated that the thoughts of all are with those directly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, the priority of the Premier League is the health and safety of players, coaches, managers, club staff, supporters and the wider community.
“The league and clubs are considering the first tentative steps forward and will return to training and playing only under government guidance, expert medical advice and after consultation with players and managers. The League welcomed the establishment of the government’s medical workgroup for the return of elite sports, which first met this morning.
“No decisions were made at today’s shareholders’ meeting and clubs exchanged views on the information provided regarding the restart of the project. It has been agreed that the PFA, LMA, players and managers are key in this process and will be further consulted.
“The clubs reaffirmed their commitment to end the 2019/20 season, maintain the integrity of the league and welcomed the support of the government.”