How Premier League clubs feel about taking the next step
- Credit: PA
The return of football has become one of the most vexing and controversial issues the sport has ever seen – Chris Lakey looks at what’s on the agenda when Premier clubs meet again... and where they stand
The debate over what comes next in football has been raging for weeks.
At one stage, footballers were pariahs, too protective of their lucrative salaries to care about those suffering because of the coronavirus pandemic. Yet now they are more like guinea pigs, ready to be thrown back into a sporting arena despite the background of a daily death toll that is still in three figures and a general public that feels safer staying at home.
And Premier League clubs, like Norwich City, have come under fire, because they have furloughed non-playing staff.
Football has again become a target right now.
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Football was suspended on March 13, but is now ready to gets its often lucrative show back on the road. But how? Regular Premier League video conferences have failed to reach a decision on how the football season is to be sorted – hardly surprising given the complex situation it finds itself in: TV broadcasting rights and players contracts are the tip of this iceberg.
But it seems the picture may become clearer next week: when the 20 Premier League clubs reconvene, possibly next Monday, it is likely that a vote will be put to initiate Project Restart, with the remaining 92 games to be played out at neutral venues, yet to be chosen let alone confirmed, and behind closed doors. If the vote goes through, the plan is to start general training May 18 with the first fixtures to take place on Friday June 12.
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Whether that means there will still be relegation is unclear – the Premier League’s strugglers say it is unfair to play in such different conditions when at risk of relegation, so it may actually be off the table - which presumably means that the title and the European places will be decided, otherwise there’d be little point in resuming at all, wouldn’t there?
For Project Restart to be passed, the vote must have at least a 14-6 difference, so it could be tight.
So what do the clubs think?
First into isolation because head coach Mikel Arteta was struck down with coronavirus - and seemingly keen on a restart. Their Emirates Stadium is reportedly one of the neutral venues.
Relegation threatened but despite that are reportedly a force behind Project Restart.
Against a restart – take away the relegation threat and that may change.
Said to be against Project Restart. “The fixture list simply isn’t equally balanced at this stage of the season,” said chief executive Paul Barber. Four of their five remaining home games are against Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool and champions Manchester City.
Strongly in favour of a restart.
In favour, but manager Frank Lampard has expressed concerns about testing, saying any disruption of supply to the NHS “doesn’t sit well” with him,
Strongly in favour. Chairman Steve Parish said: ““Football is meaningless - but it is magnificently meaningless. It has the power to lighten lives; why not see if we can use that power again?”
Said to be ‘relaxed’ over the plan.
Back a restart. They have Europe in their sights.
Apparently keeping their own counsel at meetings: two wins and they are champions anyway so you’d guess they want a resumption to seal the deal officially.
Star striker Sergio Aguero summed it up: “The majority of players are scared because they have family, they have children, they have babies, parents. When we go back, I imagine that we will be very tense, we will be very careful, and the moment someone feels ill, you will think: ‘What’s gone on there?”
Have put players on standby to return for training - sounds like they accept Project Restart.
Strongly in favour of a restart.
Relegation-threatened, reportedly one of the six against a restart. Again, take away relegation threat and that may change. Daniel Farke wants to play to an end, as long as it is safe.
Back a restart – looking to clinch a European place so why wouldn’t they?
Strongly in favour of a restart – Sty Mary’s said to be a neutral venue, but Saints aren’t keen.
Chief executive Daniel Levy has been reported as being lukewarm. Some players appear to have started their return to training early...
Back the restart but big concerns about neutral venues.
Ready to resume training - back the restart.