Premier League club Brighton is the first club in the league that has publicly kicked against the idea of playing the remaining 92 fixtures of the 2019-2020 season away from the home grounds of clubs when the season finally resumes.
One of the recommendations in the proposal for the resumption of the season is that the remaining 92 fixtures should be played at neutral venues rather than the home and away format.
Another thing the Premier League is considering is that 8 to 10 stadia that can guarantee social distancing should be selected and used to complete the remaining fixtures.
And the fixtures, if the government and health authorities give the go-ahead, should be played behind closed doors; meaning that fans can only get to follow the matches through media broadcast.
He argued that the remaining matches do not make the arrangement a balanced one, adding that the credibility of the league would be questioned if the season does not end the way it started, that is, using the home and away format.
Brighton Fears for not having home advantage
Paul Barber highlighted the importance of home advantage for his club that was trying to avoid relegation before the season was suspended. The club is currently sitting at the 15th position on the Premier League table.
“Clearly, we must all be prepared to accept some compromises, 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,” Paul said on Brighton’s website.
“But at this critical point in the season playing matches in neutral venues has, in our view, the 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, is very obvious.
“Clearly, 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.”
The 20 Premier League clubs are expected to meet via video conference on May 8 to vote for how they want the season to resume and possibly, decide how clubs will be relegated or promoted.