LMA chief says Premier League can only restart at neutral venues

May 6 – The rest of the 2019-20 Premier League season could be wiped out if clubs do not agree to play at neutral venues, according to the body representing English professional football’s managers.

A vote is due to take place on Monday on proposals to resume the campaign which has been suspended since March 13 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

League Managers Association chief executive Richard Bevan admits that “time isn’t on our side” and says training needs start “very soon” for a prospective June 12 resumption.

All 20 clubs are committed to playing the 92 remaining fixtures of the 2019-20 season if and when it is safe to do so but a significant minority are opposed to playing on neutral grounds, designed to help make sure spectators stay away.

Asked if a vote against neutral venues would lead to the season’s cancellation, Bevan told the BBC: “Yes, I think that probably is correct.”

“The government, if they haven’t already, will be making it clear that home matches with densely populated stadia, really puts into question whether social distancing rules can be adhered to.”

The Premier League’s plans – dubbed Project Restart – involve a return to action in June in order to complete the season at the end of July to fit in with UEFA’s European competition plans.

The league would also need up to 40,000 tests for players and staff if plans to play the outstanding games behind closed doors are pursued.

Players and managers will be presented with medical protocols next week, said Bevan, who insisted there was no suggestion his members were coercing players to come back.

“They’re the voice and leaders of clubs and teams but they always demonstrate calm leadership and that’s what we need,” he said.

“Whatever the pressures, physical, psychological well-being of players, coaches and indeed all the personnel, that will come first and foremost.”

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