Playing in neutral grounds would damage PL integrity -Brighton CEO

Brighton CEO Paul Barber is opposed to the idea of finishing the 19/20 Premier League season behind closed doors in neutral venues as he believes it would “damage the integrity” of the league.

Representatives from the Premier League’s 20 clubs met on Friday to reaffirm their commitment to resuming the campaign and have reportedly marked June 8 as the time to get back underway.

But Barber does not believe playing on in neutral venues is the correct solution.

He said in an official club statement: “We haven’t been asked if we would consider our stadium being used as a neutral venue for any remaining Premier League matches – by our colleagues at the league, the government or the police – and at this point, we haven’t been approached to have such a discussion either so I am unable to say why our stadium has been included in the reports.

“We do of course understand that in the very difficult circumstances we are facing that every option must be considered – but that should only be when safe to do so for all concerned and, if and when we reach that point, we are not in favor of playing our remaining matches at neutral venues.

“Clearly, we must all be prepared to accept some compromises, and we fully appreciate why playing behind closed doors is very likely to be a necessary compromise to play our remaining games while continuing to fully support the government’s efforts to contain the spread of coronavirus.

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But at this critical point in the season playing matches in neutral venues has, in our view, the potential to have a material effect on the integrity of the competition.

He continued: “Five of our nine remaining matches due to be played at the Amex – all five matches are very difficult but four are against some of the biggest clubs in European football.

“The disadvantages of us not playing the league’s top teams in our home stadium and in familiar surroundings, even with 27,000 Albion fans very unlikely to be present at the Amex, is very obvious.

“Clearly, we must accept there may also be some benefit from playing our remaining four away matches at neutral venues but the fixture list simply isn’t equally balanced at this stage of the season, and we didn’t play our first 29 matches of the season in this way.

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