Now looking less likely Newcastle United will be forced to play these games at neutral stadiums – Report
Last Friday (29 May) morning brought news of Premier League games to be played at neutral stadiums.
That followed Thursday’s confirmation that Premier League games were scheduled to kick off again as from 17 June, with all 92 matches shown on live TV.
That official confirmation came alongside reports claiming that most games would be played at the usual / intended home and away venues, albeit behind closed doors with no fans allowed. However, it was also said that a minority of matches would almost certainly be moved to neutral stadiums.
On Friday it was The Mail who were first with the story, naming these six games as the ones set to be played at neutral venues: Man City v Liverpool, Man City v Newcastle, Man Utd v Sheff Utd, Newcastle v Liverpool, Everton v Liverpool and then whichever match where Liverpool can take the title.
Now The Mail have followed that with an update on the neutral stadiums situation.
They report that Premier League executive director Bill Bush wrote to all 20 Premier League clubs in the aftermath of National Police Chiefs’ Council football lead officer Mark Roberts confirming The Mail’s report on Friday, that six fixtures were set to be shifted to neutral stadiums.
In his letter, Bill Bush pointed out that contrary to Roberts’ claims, Merseyside Police had subsequently came out and said that they could deal with any matches played at Anfield or Goodison, which meant the Everton v Liverpool match can go ahead at Goodison and any home match at Anfield where Liverpool could end up winning the title.
Beyond that, Bush says that the other two Police forced (Greater Manchester and Northumbria) will continue to monitor the situation and could well give the go ahead to at least some more of those games (reported on Friday) to also go ahead at the normal home and away venues.
The Mail say that Manchester City v Newcastle and Manchester United v Sheffield United are very likely to get the go ahead to play at the usual home venues.
Which then leaves Man City v Liverpool and Newcastle v Liverpool.
‘Merseyside Police released a further statement on Friday that, in their view, the Premier League matches scheduled for their area were within their capacity to cover.
‘From further enquiries, I understand that the process of review continues at the other two local police forces which had previously requested fixtures be moved.
‘Of course, in the current circumstances, risks still remain and, as a fallback, we will continue to prepare for neutral venues for any match, in case they are needed, so that we can react swiftly to any withdrawal of a safety certificate.
‘However, it would appear that there is every possibility that the final list of matches proposed for movement to neutral venues for policing reasons will be reduced to a maximum of four, depending on the final decisions by Greater Manchester Police and Northumbria Police.
‘It has always been the case that matters relating to safety certificates are for decision by the local licensing authority, advised by their local police force.
‘Clubs have strong relationships built up over many years and we would expect local discussions to result in the vast majority remaining at home-team venues.’
Other reports claimed that Man City v Newcastle had been flagged up as a problem game due to the possibility of it being used as a publicity stunt regarding the Qatar and (imminent) Saudi ownership of the clubs. It just sounds a load of nonsense to me, the Etihad is outside the city centre and looks relatively easy to police and prevent any large number of people congregating, if for some bizarre reason they decided to travel from wherever rather than watch the match at home.
As for Newcastle v Liverpool, it is the last game of the season and the scousers will have won the title long before then. Plus anyway, with no spectators allowed into games, surely it would be easy to schedule that match at St James Park for now, knowing that much closer to the time you could easily shift it elsewhere if for whatever bizarre reasoning the authorities felt they had to.
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