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Watford joins Brighton and Villa to oppose PL neutral venue

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09 May 2020
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Duxbury Scott

Watford has followed Brighton and Aston Villa’s path in publicly opposing neutral venues in the Premier League’s proposed Project Restart Plan.

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Watford’s chairman and chief executive Scott Duxbury has joined sides with Brighton and Aston Villa to oppose the neutral use of venues in the Premier League return. He claims it will compromise fairness and sporting integrity.

It is therefore understood the PL will delay a vote on whether to use neutral venues from Monday when all 20 clubs meet.

While the three clubs have made their opposition to the proposal known, reports claim there are other clubs with similar feelings.

No altruism in the Premier League-Duxbury

“There are 20 different vested interests which sometimes align but more often than not work purely to protect each individual club. That is why some clubs are happy to sign up for “project Restart”. This because arguably there is only upside in participating in this compromised format. It means Liverpool can win the title, other clubs can book their place in Europe next season or potentially fight their way up the table from a position safety.”

“But when at least six clubs are concerned about the clear downside and the devastating effects of playing in this kind of distorted nine-game, mini-game, then I believe the PL has a duty of care to address those concerns. If we start and finish a whole season under these conditions and at neutral venues when everybody knows the rules when we start, not created in a time of crisis, then that is clearly fair.”

“To be asked to finish a quarter of the season under new rules and conditions is an entirely different proposition. How can the long-term future of clubs be determined under these fundamentally changed conditions? How is there any semblance of fairness? To wave aside all the fears and concerns is too simplistic.”

“Surely, all 20 clubs must agree the fairest way forward to complete the season? I hope we can now come together and find a solution to enable the season end fairly and safely.”

Playing away from Vicarage Road is not a good idea

Duxbury accepts matches must be played in empty stadiums due to the ingoing COVID-19. However, to him, playing away from Vicarage Road is not an idea he buys into.

He says, “We are now told we cannot play our remaining home games at Vicarage Road and the familiarities and advantage that bring.”

“This against a backdrop of players who, having seen their lives turned upside down along with the rest of the world are suddenly expected to perform as if nothing has happened.”

“We have club medical staff working under conditions that no doctor or physio has ever experienced with guidelines that, in no small part, are based at this stage on supposition rather than scientific fact.”

“And with all these compromises and health risks, we are asked to finish a competition that bears no resemblance to the one we started. This could end a small club like Watford’s time in the PL. So, is this fair? Does it have any semblance of sporting integrity? Of course not.”

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