Liverpool's title-winning game among several which could be played at neutral venue
Meanwhile, the FA Cup final has been rescheduled for 1 August.by Press Association
POLICE HAVE SET out the Premier League matches they would like to be played at neutral venues, which would include any Liverpool game where the title could be won.
The matches which have been requested to take place at neutral grounds are Manchester City v Liverpool, Manchester City v Newcastle United, Manchester United v Sheffield United, Newcastle United v Liverpool and Everton v Liverpool.
The police statement adds that “the game in which Liverpool could secure the league title” should also be moved, but this may end up needing to be more than one match if the Reds did not clinch it at the first attempt.
Deputy chief constable Mark Roberts of South Yorkshire Police, the UK’s football policing lead, said in a statement issued to the PA news agency: “Our discussions with the Premier League throughout this process have been positive, with a shared focus on the priority of public health.
“As such we have reached a consensus that balances the needs of football, while also minimising the demand on policing.
“The majority of remaining matches will be played at home and away as scheduled, with a small number of fixtures taking place at neutral venues, which, contrary to some reports, have yet to be agreed.
“The views and agreement of forces which host Premier League clubs have been sought and where there were concerns, the Premier League has been supportive in providing flexibility in arranging alternative venues where requested.
“This plan will be kept continually under review to ensure public health and safety and a key part of this is for supporters to continue to respect the social distancing guidelines, and not to attend or gather outside the stadiums.”
Newcastle, in 13th, are the lowest-ranked side to be involved in a match at a neutral venue as things stand. There had been complaints from some clubs towards the bottom of the table, including Brighton, about the impact of playing at neutral venues on sporting integrity.
Clubs will hold further discussions on whether to proceed with the season on this basis when they meet again on 4 June. The police statement did not mention any matches in the English Football League.
Championship clubs are back in training with a view to restarting next month, and an EFL spokesperson said: “It remains our intention to play all remaining league matches at clubs’ home grounds as long as they comply with the relevant government guidance.
“We will only seek to move matches if they are not permitted by the relevant local authority, following any representations from the local police force.”
Meanwhile, the 2019-20 FA Cup final has been rescheduled for 1 August. The Football Association announced the dates for the final three rounds of the competition this morning, following on from the Premier League confirming its intention to return on June 17 subject to government clearance.
The competition had reached the quarter-final stage before professional football in England was suspended on 13 March due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The four matches in the last eight will be played over the weekend of 27-28 June 27, with no decision reached yet on whether these will be played on a home-and-away basis as normal or at neutral venues.
The semi-finals will be played on 18-19 July, with the intention being for those matches and the final to be played at Wembley as usual. All the ties will be behind closed doors.
The news will be a boost to the FA from a financial perspective, with its chief executive Mark Bullingham warning in April of the governing body suffering losses of up to £150million as a result of the disruption caused by the Covid-19 outbreak.
He said today: “We are pleased to agree the provisional restart date for the 2019/20 Emirates FA Cup. The competition has been an integral part of the English football calendar for nearly 150 years, and we’d like to thank the Premier League executive and clubs for their support in scheduling the remaining matches during this unprecedented time.
“This has been a difficult period for many people and while this is a positive step, the restart date is dependent on all safety measures being met. The health and well-being of players, staff and supporters remains our priority.”
The arrangements for broadcasting the matches are yet to be confirmed, with BT Sport and BBC holding the UK rights.
The split for the quarter-finals had been announced in March prior to the competition being suspended, but it remains to be seen whether the same split will still apply.
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