11 May 2020

PL: All Clubs Want Home And Away Matches  (Sky Sports)

Brighton v. BournemouthThe Premier League says the preference is for all clubs to be able to play home and away if the competition resumes next month.

Premier League shareholders discussed Project Restart during virtual talks on Monday, following the government's new guidance on lockdown restrictions.

Top-level sport in England could restart behind closed doors from June 1 but spectators may not be able to attend venues until a coronavirus vaccine is found.

The government and UK's top football police officer have suggested that games should be played in neutral venues but that plan was opposed by many relegation-threatened clubs.

"Everybody would prefer to play home and away if at all possible," Masters said.

"It's clear to see that some clubs feel more strongly about that than others. It is an ongoing dialogue and 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.

"We are working flat out to create a responsible, safe, and deliverable model to complete the season.

"No decisions will be made until after we have talked to players and managers and those meetings are scheduled for later this week."

Clubs discussed curtailing the season for the first time but all 20 Premier League clubs also remain committed to finishing the 2019/20 season.

"It was the first time we discussed curtailment - it's still our aim to finish the season obviously but it's important to discuss all the options with our clubs," Masters said.

"What I can say is that all of the talk was about finishing the season. No conclusions were reached on any other models. Those are future conversations we may need to have."

Premier League clubs also voted to allow contract extensions for players whose current deals expire on June 30.

Players at the end of loan spells can also extend their moves if all three parties involved are in agreement.

Testing, medical protocols and any potential return to group training were also discussed on Monday, with further meetings between players and managers set to follow this week.

Sky Sports News can also confirm FA chairman Greg Clarke spoke about the integrity of the game to clubs during their conference call but there remains no indication that the FA will intervene on the Premier League's decisions.

Analysis: Government roadmap led by aspiration

By Geraint Hughes, Sky Sports News reporter

The Government's roadmap out of lockdown begins, but with a caveat that could stop the return of football and all sport in its tracks before it's even got going again.

It has an ambition, an aspiration to allow professional sporting events behind closed doors from June 1 onwards. Ambition and aspiration are key words here, it is not definite, it is not set in stone. Far from it.

At any point on the journey towards a 'new normal' that includes the return of football, if the alert level rises or positive tests or deaths rise then the return of the beautiful game just will not happen as unacceptable risks will not be taken by the government. Football's restart or any other sport is just not important enough in the grand scheme of public health.

A lot has been debated about a lack of clarity around the Government's roadmap and right now it is reasonable to understand confusion from sports fans and those whose livelihood is from sport.

Only two pages of the 50 page document published on Monday relate in any way to sport or sporting activity. With regard to professional sport it's pretty much 'June 1 behind closed doors… if possible'.

Greater detail on that could well come on Tuesday as I understand cross-sport medical working groups have already compiled proposals about how a safe return to training schedules will look although those proposals are continuously being tweaked and amended.

Those details cannot come quick enough for MPs whose job it is to hold the government to account. Shadow Sports Minister Alison McGovern MP has sent a letter today to Sports Minster Nigel Huddleston with 20 questions she wants answers to about Project Restart.

There is so much more detail to come, none more pressing than the thorny issue of whether to play football at neutral venues behind closed doors. Police responsible for football have again reiterated their preference for playing the remaining matches across both the Premier League and EFL at neutral venues.

Right now the return of sport behind closed doors remains hypothetical and the thought of crowds allowed back in remains ever distant if the fight against Covid-19 does not successfully follow government targets.

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