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Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Football’s police chief explains meeting ‘facilitating sensible restart’ to Premier League season

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The police chief in charge of English football says a “positive meeting” has been held with government officials about finishing the Premier League season with home and away fixtures.

On Monday, the Premier League’s chief executive, Richard Masters, explained how clubs across the division were unanimous about ending the campaign without the need for neutral venues to be used.

A host of relegation-threatened teams have lobbied against the use of other stadia, insisting their chances of survival are unfairly harmed by such a measure.

Talks are ongoing about the feasibility of completing the 2019/20 campaign at home and away grounds following the mid-March suspension of football in the UK because of the coronavirus pandemic.

It had been widely reported that around eight to 10 neutral grounds were being considered to thrash out the remaining 92 games of the current season when safe to do so.

The government then advised on Monday that top-level sport in England would be able to resume without crowds from June 1.

Detective Chief Constable, Mark Roberts, has now released a statement claiming constructive talks have been held with government over finalising the season with home and away matches rather than crucial fixtures going behind closed doors at a handful of neutral stadiums across the country.

Mr Roberts said: “Following a positive meeting between police, government and football last night, we will be jointly exploring a range of options to identify a way forward, which minimises any risks to public safety and unnecessary pressure on public services, but facilitates a sensible restart to the season, to support the economic and morale benefits associated with the sport.”

It raises the prospect of Liverpool and Everton returning to action when safe at Goodison Park in the Merseyside derby, although such a scenario is still some way from being confirmed at present.

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Premier League coronavirus shut down

Speaking on Monday evening, Premier League chief Masters insisted that the idea to play the behind closed doors matches at traditional home and away venues was one that was supported by the majority.

“Just to reiterate that, I think everybody would prefer to play home and away if at all possible,” he said.

“And I think it’s clear to see that some clubs feel more strongly about that than others.

“It is an ongoing dialogue and obviously we’ve been talking to – since Covid-19 became an issue – we’ve been talking to the authorities about the conditions in which we could get the Premier League back up and running and taking all that advice on board.

“But it is an ongoing dialogue. There is not much I can say about that, other than we are in contact with the authorities and listening to that advice while also representing club views in those discussions.”

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