Fixture list will shape police’s thoughts on neutral venues for London matches
London Mayor Sadiq Khan has expressed misgivings about Premier League matches being played in the capital.
Police will look at the final proposed Premier League fixture list before recommending whether any games in London should be moved to neutral venues.
None of the five matches which the UK’s football policing lead said local forces had requested be switched to neutral venues last week were in the capital, despite the city’s mayor Sadiq Khan expressing strong misgivings about staging games there during the coronavirus pandemic.
Tottenham’s match against north London rivals Arsenal is one of the games still to be played, as is Spurs against West Ham. The Hammers also have a home game against Chelsea at the London Stadium.
The PA news agency understands a proposed fixture list for at least a proportion of the remaining matches will be presented to clubs at a shareholders’ meeting on Thursday, with a provisional restart date of June 17 having been set.
A statement from the Metropolitan Police read: “The MPS have been in regular contact with the NPCC football lead DCC Mark Roberts who is co-ordinating the policing response to the restart of any football matches across the UK.
“Whilst agreement has been reached as to when the season may recommence, the plans for this to happen are still being finalised.
“We remain in contact with all the relevant bodies and will make plans as necessary when we receive a final proposed schedule for games.”
Premier League chief executive Richard Masters told Sky Sports last week that he hoped the final number of matches needing to be played at neutral venues would be kept as low as possible.
It is still a world away from the position at the start of May, when clubs were told that all matches would have to be played at eight to 10 neutral venues for the season to be completed.
PA understands Liverpool City Council’s safety advisory group is due to meet early next week. Everton are hoping it will allow them to stage the Merseyside derby at Goodison Park on the weekend of June 19-22.
The match had been one of the five fixtures in the remainder of the 2019-20 Premier League season which the UK’s football policing lead, Deputy Chief Constable Mark Roberts of South Yorkshire Police, said was set to be played at a neutral venue at the request of the local force.
Merseyside Police appeared to contradict DCC Roberts on Friday by saying they had no objections to policing matches in Liverpool.
The remaining matches were Manchester City’s home games against Liverpool and Newcastle, Manchester United v Sheffield United and Newcastle v Liverpool.
It also included provision for any game in which runaway league leaders Liverpool could win the title to be played at a neutral ground.
Premier League clubs will discuss a wide variety of topics on Thursday, including protocols around match day operations and a curtailment framework. It is understood a draft fixture list for at least a proportion of the remaining matches will be shown to the clubs.
Southampton chief executive Martin Semmens told PA: “Thursday’s meeting is a lot to do with the medical protocols, the playing games, and then the technical side of playing games, in terms of substitutions and the rules.
“Let’s look at all the protocols we’ve been given, let’s work out really clearly whether we can do this and we can get to the highest standard possible.
“I’ve seen the paperwork and it’s massive and it’s a big job for us to do.”
The league’s Project Restart plans received a further boost on Wednesday afternoon when just one positive coronavirus test came back out of 1,197 conducted on staff at top-flight clubs on Monday and Tuesday.
Tottenham said they had been informed that the positive test had come from a member of staff at their club.
Last week it was confirmed the league’s television rights holders set out plans for how to screen the remaining 92 matches.
Amazon announced on Wednesday that its four matches would be made available free to air, to go alongside Sky Sports’ pledge to do the same with 25 of its 64 games and the BBC’s four terrestrial matches.
“Like the rest of the country, we are excited to see the Premier League return to action,” said Alex Green, MD Prime Video Sport Europe.
“We will be making all four of Amazon Prime Video’s additional fixtures in the 2019-20 season available free of charge; fans will not need a Prime membership to view the games on Prime Video.”