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‘The disadvantages of not playing in our home stadium are very obvious’: Brighton become first Premier League club to publicly oppose plans to host games at neutral venues as chief questions integrity of Project Restart proposals

  • Brighton are the first Premier League club to oppose neutral venue plans 
  • Project Restart is looking to host the remaining games at eight or ten grounds 
  • Seagulls chief Paul Barber said that the plans would be unfair on his side
  • Five of Brighton’s nine remaining fixtures were set to be played at the Amex 
  • Barber said that the proposals would affect the integrity of the competition 
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Brighton and Hove Albion have become the first Premier League club to publicly oppose plans to stage the rest of the season at neutral venues as chief executive Paul Barber had his say on the proposal.

On Friday, a four-hour video conference took place between all 20 Premier League clubs over Project Restart, where tensions were palpable as to how the season should be ended, with a divide between the top and bottom clubs.

There have been proposals to stage the remaining games at neutral venues so as to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus, which has been the cause for the suspension of play having taken the lives of 28,131 people in the UK.

Brighton have become the first Premier League club to oppose neutral venue plans

Project Restart could see eight to ten grounds host the remaining Premier League fixtures

Project Restart could see eight to ten grounds host the remaining Premier League fixtures

The thinking is that certain grounds which are distant from built-up areas and housing would be preferable, with Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium and Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium singled out.

But Brighton chief Barber has opposed those plans, insisting that it would disadvantage his side. The Seagulls were due to play five of their remaining nine fixtures at home, where they feel they would have an advantage over rivals.

‘Clearly, we must all be prepared to accept some compromises,’ he told the club’s official website. ‘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.

Brighton chief executive Paul Barber says that the plans would negatively affect his club

Brighton chief executive Paul Barber says that the plans would negatively affect his club

Five of Graham Potter's remaining nine games had been scheduled to be played at the Amex

Five of Graham Potter’s remaining nine games had been scheduled to be played at the Amex

Brighton home record

Games played: 14

Wins: 4

Draws: 6

Losses: 4

Points: 18

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

‘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, are very obvious,’ he added.

‘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. So, in our opinion one thing doesn’t cancel out the other.’

Barber says the proposals would pose questions as to the integrity of the competition

Barber says the proposals would pose questions as to the integrity of the competition

It is believed that the Premier League are looking at creating a list of eight or ten venues to host the remaining fixtures, with plenty yet to be decided this season.

While Liverpool are all but guaranteed to win their first title in 30 years, at least six clubs, including Brighton, are still battling to avoid relegation, while a host of clubs are fighting for a place in Europe next season.

Brighton’s home ground, the Amex Stadium, is believed to be one of those stadiums shortlisted to host games, although Barber has stressed that neither he nor the club have been made away of this.

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