'Why are neutral venues any safer?' - Brighton chief opposes Premier League 'Project Restart' plans

Goal.com

Brighton chief executive Paul Barber has outlined his opposition to the Premier League’s ‘Project Restart’ plan to resume the season by playing games at neutral stadiums.

With the health and safety of players and staff of paramount importance, a number of criteria have been drawn up for grounds to be made available for games, in order for social distancing protocols to be followed inside and to deter fans from congregating outside.

A number of stadiums, including Brighton’s Amex Stadium, are also being used as coronavirus testing centres or in other ways as part of the effort against the virus.

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But, with the Bundesliga set to resume on May 16 with games going ahead at home stadiums, Barber believes the Premier League should follow the German example.

“The Germans are managing to restart their season playing at their home grounds,” he told the Mirror.

"Are we so concerned about our situation that we couldn’t manage our ground in the same way?

“If Germany can, why can’t we? We’ve got some of the best stadiums in the world, some of the best-run football clubs in the world, one of the best leagues in the world with great administrators.

"Why can’t we make it happen in our country and finish the season the way it started?

“From our point of view, we need to find out a bit more about why neutral venues were even put forward in the first place.

"Why are neutral venues so much safer than clubs being able to play in their own venues?”

Barber says he thinks fans should be trusted to follow social distancing rules and remain at home, and he isn’t convinced about the need to use stadiums away from heavily populated residential areas.

“Operationally, I feel I would trust football fans to respect any advice they were given to stay away from games being played behind closed doors,” he added.

“Our supporters at Brighton would understand that if they didn’t comply with that request then there would be serious sanctions.

“I know Germany has managed the Covid-19 pandemic differently to ours and I understand they’ve got different results on infection rates, mortality rates and it’s a much bigger country. The stadiums might be designed in a different way.

“But the stadiums I’ve been to in Germany are in built-up areas.

"I was there last season in Dortmund; there’s a residential area opposite the stadium, the station is not far from the venue and that will be used in the next few weeks.”

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