PREMIER LEAGUE clubs may be permitted to complete the season at their own grounds after a change of heart from the authorities, removing a major obstacle to Project Restart.
According to reports, positive talks were held last night between the Department of Culture, Media and Sports involving the police, the Sports Grounds Safety Authority and representatives from the Premier League, FA and EFL.
And the Daily Mail say they ended with the “government advising that the controversial issue of whether individual stadiums should be licenced to stage matches would a matter for local police authorities”.
Their report states a number of police authorities across the country have “no issues” with matches being played at a club’s home stadium as long as all safety criteria can be met.
Fears were high that fans could turn up in large groups outside grounds if matches were to be played behind-closed-doors locally.
That was one of the main reasons behind Premier League chiefs proposing to have games played at neutral venues, and even though it remains a concern, clubs have pointed out it could still be a problem at other venues.
Now it has been claimed that if clubs provide assurances to their respective local police force they will have enough stewarding resources to ensure the two-metre social distancing guidelines are adhered to, finishing off the season on a home and away basis will not be an issue.
And if they are willing to foot the bill to pay for the amount of cops required, then playing matches at the original venues would be possible.
This afternoon’s report claim Government sources insist there has never been a fixed view regarding all games being staged at neutral venues.
However, there does seem to have been a big swing in thinking following opposition from a number of top-flight clubs at yesterday’s shareholders’ meeting.
Two-thirds of clubs declared their major reservations about the proposal in a major increase from the six who were originally against it, leading to the Premier League last night’s meeting.
The change of position was reflected in a statement from Deputy Chief Constable Mark Roberts, the country’s most senior football police officer, earlier today.
Last week he told clubs against the neutral venue plan to “get a grip” but his latest comments confirm different options are still being exploited.
His statement 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.”
This stance change could also have implications for the Championship, who could struggle for the resources to finish their campaign at neutral stadiums.
Source: the sun