‘No such thing as an entirely safe environment’ – Watford chairman against neutral venues
- Updated: May 9, 2020
Watford chairman Scott Duxbury says the Premier League’s ‘Project Restart’ plans aren’t fair on smaller clubs who will be more affected by the loss of home advantage.
The Premier League aims to play matches at a number of neutral venues, stating health and safety and hygiene as among the factors for the decision.
Duxbury says he accepts that games have to be played without fans but believes clubs should be able to play at their home grounds, as is set to happen in the Bundesliga.
We are now told we cannot play our remaining home games at Vicarage Road and the familiarity and advantage that brings,” Duxbury wrote in The Times.
“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, despite the rest of society probably still facing the kind of restrictions unenforceable on a football pitch.
“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, which could end a small club like Watford’s time in the Premier League.
“So is this fair? Does it have any semblance of sporting integrity? Of course not.
“The Bundesliga will return on May 16 with home and away fixtures. They have found a way to implement all the proposals we have been talking about in our Premier League meetings without the need to resort to neutral venues.”
Duxbury also questioned the Premier League’s apparent belief that not every stadium would be able to provide a safe environment for players and staff – though he also accepted that a truly safe environment doesn’t exist in the context of the coronavirus.
He also dismissed reported concerns that fans would be tempted to gather outside stadiums if teams played at their own grounds.
“Do the authorities seriously believe our clubs, in their own grounds, cannot deliver a safe environment for the 300 or so people involved in hosting a single Premier League match?
“Because, in the world of Covid-19, there is no such thing as an entirely safe environment wherever we play.