Besides ‘home and away’ venues, neutral sites lined up for EPL matches

MANCHESTER: The Premier League, which will resume action on June 17, says its aim is for the remaining games to play on the usual home and away basis but that they have a contingency plan for neutral venues.

The initial suggestion from the UK government had been for the closed-door matches to be played at neutral venues but some clubs have expressed opposition to that idea – views that have been put to the government by the league.

Some media reports have suggested that select games which may have a risk of fans gathering outside grounds, such as the Merseyside derby between Everton and Liverpool, would still be held at a neutral venue even if most games are held on a home/away basis.

“The Premier League’s ambition is to complete all of our remaining fixtures this season home and away, where possible,” the league said in a statement on Friday.

“We are working with our clubs to ensure risks are assessed and minimised, while co-operating with the police at a local and national level.

“Discussions with the National Police Chiefs’ Council and UK Football Policing Unit have been positive and are continuing. We are prepared for all outcomes and have a neutral venue contingency,” the statement concluded.

The season will get back underway on Wednesday June 17 with Aston Villa v Sheffield United and Manchester City v Arsenal, which are both games in hand.

A full fixture list will then be played on the weekend of June 19-21.

The Premier League was suspended on March 13 due to the novel coronavirus pandemic but teams returned to small group training last week and on Wednesday voted unanimously to return to contact training, including tackling.