Premier League season will be cancelled if clubs won't play at neutral grounds, says LMA chief

Goal.com

League Managers Association chief executive Richard Bevan has said the Premier League season will be cancelled if clubs do not agree to play at neutral grounds.

The Premier League has been on hiatus since March due to the coronavirus pandemic but is hoping to resume play in June under the "Project Restart" initiative.

At a meeting of the league's clubs last week, the idea of playing the rest of the 2019-20 campaign at neutral venues was discussed.

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Brighton chief executive Paul Barber quickly came out against the plan, saying that it would damage the integrity of the competition.

Bevan, however, believes that Premier League clubs will have no choice but to embrace the idea, which is designed to move games away from densely populated areas and reduce the amount of stadiums needed.

The proposal needs 14 out of the 20 Premier League clubs to vote in favour and when asked if its defeat would mean the end of the season, Bevan told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "Yes, I think that probably is correct."

He added: "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."

Bevan, who heads the union that represents Premier League, EFL and national team managers, added that as football gets closer to a return, it must not take away resources from organisations that need them more in the fight against Covid-19.

"Football must not occupy any NHS resources, it must not impinge on the capacity of the health and emergency services," Bevan said. "[A safe return] covers testing, tracking, PPE available, clear guidelines on social distancing, and obviously a safe environment to train and play.

"There will be guidance on cardiology, mental and emotional well-being. And I think the message really is that health is a guiding principle to any decision-making."

The Premier League is looking to follow in the footsteps of the Bundesliga, which is poised to be the first major European league to return from its coronavirus suspension.

On Wednesday, German chancellor Angela Merkel announced that Bundesliga football can return to action "in the second half of May".

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