Via Premier League – Following today’s meeting of Shareholders, Premier League Chief Executive Richard Masters has said the 20 clubs are united in their desire to get the 2019/20 season back up and running and that players and managers will have an important role in that return.
“In today’s meeting, it was reiterated the Premier League and clubs absolutely recognise the COVID-19 pandemic puts football into context,” Masters said. “So many lives have been lost and so many others deeply affected.
“We are proud at the response to the pandemic that the Premier League, our clubs and our players have provided with vital support to communities and to the NHS and hopefully will continue to do so after matches recommence.”
During today’s meeting the UK Government signalled the possibility of a return of live sports from 1 June, following on from its announcement on the easing of the lockdown in England.
Safety comes first
Masters said the League will follow Government advice as well as that of others in planning a return of the competition.
“We welcome these first steps and are ready to play our part,” he said. “We are working flat out with clubs and stakeholders – Government, our broadcast partners, The FA, the EFL, PFA and the LMA – to create a responsible, safe and deliverable model to complete the season.
“Of course, safety comes first. We must listen to Government, the authorities and the medical experts and continue to follow their advice.
“That is exactly what we are doing. We are getting ourselves in the best position to resume the season, but only when the conditions are right.”
Collective way forward
Masters said today’s meeting of clubs showed all 20 were united in looking to complete the season.
“There was a strong desire to discuss everything in the round and to agree a collective way forward,” he said. “A really strong collective will to complete the season remains.”
In so doing, Masters reiterated that consulting the players and managers is vital and that a meeting is planned with them later this week.
“Our priority will always be the safety of players, coaches and managers, staff, supporters, and the wider community,” he said.
“Nothing will be agreed until we have spoken to both the managers and players.”
Masters said that only after consultation with the players and managers would there be the next step of clubs returning to training, but with social-distancing measures put in place. For that, he added, a company had been appointed to conduct testing at club training grounds.
The issue of where the remaining Premier League matches would be played was also discussed, with the possibility of using neutral venues raised. But Masters stressed that the Shareholders’ desire was to complete the season playing matches at their originally scheduled venues.
“Obviously it is the preference of all our clubs to play at home if at all possible,” Masters said. “It is an ongoing dialogue and we’ve been talking to the authorities about the conditions in which we could get the Premier League back up and running and are taking all that advice on board.”
New Premier League Chair
Masters also spoke about the recent appointment of Gary Hoffman as the new Premier League Chair, taking over from Claudia Arney, who had been holding the position on an interim basis.
“I am looking forward to working with Gary,” Masters said. “He has a tough act to follow in Claudia, who I have worked with so closely over the last 18 months.
“I know Claudia has the respect of everyone at the Premier League and all the players.
“We are looking forward to that new team emerging.”