04:20 GMT09 July 2020
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    With British Prime Minister Boris Johnson having outlined the UK’s new coronavirus guidelines to the public on Sunday evening, he is now expected to provide similar advice to professional sports teams, who are seeking to return to action in the coming weeks.

    Representatives from English Premier League clubs met on Monday for further discussions about how the 2019-20 season can get back underway.

    The Premier League has been suspended indefinitely since March due to the ongoing threat of the coronavirus pandemic, which posed a threat to the health and safety of players and fans alike.

    The English FA has repeatedly outlined its desire for the division to resume play by Mid-June, but proposals such as fulfilling fixtures in neutral venues, have caused talks between Premier League teams to stall.

    A vote amongst said sides on whether to play in neutral venues should the league restart, has yet to have been held.

    Many clubs have however expressed disdain for the idea with Watford Chief Executive Scott Duxbury in particular, being a vociferous opponent of the move.

    Speaking in the Times newspaper last week, the Chief Executive stated: “I of course, absolutely accept we cannot have supporters in the stadium.”

    Duxbury added that it would unfair to deprive teams of home support.

    "However, we are now told we cannot play our remaining home games at Vicarage Road and the familiarity and advantage that brings. 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.”

    He also outlined his beliefs that completing the season with matches being played at neutral venues could compromise the integrity of the Premier League.

    "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." – Duxbury concluded.

    If the Premier League season cannot get underway once again, many options for how to fairly end it have been touted.

    The main choices that have cropped up are to render the season “null and void”, and begin afresh when it is safe to do so, to end the campaign using the table as it stood when the Premier League was called off in March, or to calculate final positions based on mathematic algorithms, which would aim to allocate points to teams based on their previous performances.

    Each scenario, other than playing out the season would have severe ramifications for clubs at both the top and lower ends of the Premier League.

    The vote on whether to hold remaining games at neutral grounds is expected to take place later this week, and the outcome is likely to be crucial in deciding whether the Premier League gets back underway in Mid-June, as FA executives had hoped.

    Tags:
    COVID-19, football, United Kingdom, English Premier League
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