Norwich say relegation and promotion must be decided on the pitch

Reuters
FILE PHOTO: Norwich City's Sporting Director Stuart Webber gestures during an interview at the club's training ground in Norwich
FILE PHOTO: Norwich City's Sporting Director Stuart Webber gestures during an interview at the club's training ground in Norwich

(Reuters) - Premier League clubs should be relegated only if both of the top two divisions restart and complete the season, the sporting director of bottom side Norwich City said on Wednesday.

The Canaries are six points below the safety line with nine games to play and Stuart Webber said it would be unfair to relegate or promote teams based on an incomplete season.

"It's fine if we restart and three teams get relegated," he told Sky Sports television. "Football should be played on a pitch and not in the boardroom.

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"But the Championship (second tier) has to restart and play all their games also.

"What we could not accept is a situation where we play out all our games, get relegated but then the Championship can't play... and then they automatically promote some teams who haven't finished the season."

Premier League clubs are in discussions to finish the season, with the possibility of a restart next month given a boost when the government said elite sport could return after June 1. The fate of lower divisions remains uncertain.

The BBC has reported that top flight clubs would have to spend a combined four million pounds ($4.92 million) on testing players for COVID-19.

Such an outlay would likely be beyond the resources of smaller clubs who are reliant on gate receipts but have already furloughed staff and would not be allowed to admit any spectators.

Norwich were among those who opposed plans for Premier League games to be held at neutral venues to limit the risk of supporters turning up, but clubs now hope such a measure can be avoided.

Webber was critical of the way the debate had been framed last week, with accusations that those threatened with the drop were using concerns about neutral venues as an excuse to try and avoid relegation.

"I'm just glad that's been levelled up a bit this week and it's no surprise that once bigger clubs than us talk about it suddenly people want to get around the table and don't want to beat us up any more," he said.

"I think most important is that we try and find a way of getting back playing where its safe and where the competition's fair.

"What we can't do is play it all out in the media and when an agenda suits beat up clubs for suggesting that playing in neutral venues might not be fair."


(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ken Ferris)

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