Premier League can overcome restart challenges, says Brady

The Etihad Stadium complex, home to English Premier League football team Manchester City, is pictured on April 21, 2020 as life in Britain continues during the nationwide lockdown to combat the novel coronavirus pandemic. (AFP / Paul Ellis)
Short Url
Updated 03 May 2020

Premier League can overcome restart challenges, says Brady

  • Clubs told at Friday’s meeting that remaining 92 matches of season must be played at neutral venues

LONDON: West Ham Vice Chairman Karren Brady insists that every Premier League club wants to complete the season despite there being “a lot of obstacles” to restarting the campaign.

Clubs were presented with the league’s “Project Restart” plans at a meeting on Friday and were told the remaining 92 matches of the 2019-2020 season must be played at neutral venues.

That is an extra sticking point to a litany of other logistical issues as there remains opposition on sporting integrity grounds about the idea of not finishing the campaign on a home-and-away basis.

“At yesterday’s meeting, every club said it wants the season to restart,” said Brady in her column for the Sun newspaper.

“The only common theme from all the Prem clubs is that any compromises have to be fair and uphold the integrity of the game.

“Players and managers have to be key decision-makers on the protocols as there is a long way to go from where we are now to actually getting playing again.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero admitted this week that players are ‘scared’ at the prospect of being rushed back into action.
  • Brighton’s Glenn Murray questioned whether it is right for football’s return to drain resources from public services such as ambulance crews and police.

“There are a lot of obstacles to overcome and no doubt many compromises to make.”

Brighton Chief Executive Paul Barber said on Thursday that the idea of not playing matches home and away was a “further imperfection” on top of games being behind closed doors.

Before plans to return to playing can progress, the Premier League clubs must also address the thorny issues of testing and player welfare.

Players, coaches and backroom staff would reportedly be tested two or three times a week and could be forced to quarantine in hotels away from their families to help prevent the spread of the virus.

The Bundesliga’s ambitious plans to return to playing matches this month were dealt a blow with the news on Friday that three people at Cologne have tested positive for coronavirus and been placed in a 14-day quarantine.

Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero admitted this week that players are “scared” at the prospect of being rushed back into action, while Brighton’s Glenn Murray questioned whether it is right for football’s return to drain resources from public services such as ambulance crews and police.

The proposal of neutral venues by the Premier League is designed to reduce the number of medical, security and broadcast personnel needed at every match.

“It’s clear that the location of the games when the league recommences will be subject to approval from both the Government and Sports Grounds Safety Authority,” added Brady.

“They could argue neutral grounds better protect the welfare of all involved and reduce the burden on public services like police and ambulance.”


Champions League ready to resume, at long last

Robert Lewandowski, left, and Bayern Munich during their Marseille friendly ahead of the Champions League last 16 2nd leg against Chelsea. (Files/AFP)
Updated 56 min 10 sec ago

Champions League ready to resume, at long last

  • UEFA ‘confident’ no more delays despite virus cases among players at Real Madrid and Sevilla

PARIS: After an enforced hiatus of almost five months, the UEFA Champions League and Europa League resume this week in order to clear up the last remaining business in a troubled season.

Both competitions were frozen in March as the coronavirus pandemic took hold across the continent, and while European football’s governing body acted swiftly to move Euro 2020 back a year, for a long time it was unclear how it would manage to complete its two landmark club competitions.
In the end the solution was to set up two mini tournaments bringing all teams together in one place from the quarterfinals onwards, with all ties being decided in one-off matches behind closed doors.
And so the Champions League will move to Lisbon for the “Final Eight” starting on Aug. 12 and ending with the final at Benfica’s Estadio da Luz on Aug. 23.
The Europa League, meanwhile, will be played to a conclusion at a series of venues in western Germany, with the last eight beginning on Aug. 10 and the final in Cologne on Aug. 21.
“I believed it from the first moment,” said the UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin recently when asked if he ever doubted it would be possible to play the tournaments to a conclusion. “You should always be optimistic, and if something like this crisis happens, you must have a plan ready. “At the present time, we will be playing matches without spectators until further notice. We will not take any risks.”
There is, though, no question of further changes being made to the formats despite concerns about an increase in Covid-19 cases in and around Lisbon, and more recent worries in Germany about a rise in cases there.
UEFA also recently insisted it was “confident” there would be no more delays despite cases of coronavirus emerging among players at Real Madrid and Sevilla. It is, in any case, now or never.
Indeed, the preliminary round of next season’s Champions League begins next Saturday, the same day Bayern Munich entertain Chelsea and Napoli visit Barcelona in their outstanding last 16 second legs.
Before that, Manchester City defend a 2-1 first-leg lead at home against Real on Friday as Pep Guardiola’s side target Champions League glory on the back of the club’s success at getting a two-year ban from the competition overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
The winner of that tie will face Juventus or Lyon in the quarterfinals in Lisbon.
It is the Europa League which is first up, though, with the last 16 being completed on Wednesday and Thursday.
Two ties — Inter Milan against Getafe and Sevilla against Roma — will go ahead as one-off ties in Germany as the first legs were never played.
Six second legs will also be played with the winners heading to Germany for the last eight.
Among the ties to be completed is Manchester United’s against Austrian side LASK, which will be a formality for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team after they won 5-0 in the first leg in March.
Their form since the Premier League resumed in mid-June has been excellent and they have already sealed a place in the 2020-21 Champions League, but now they want to finish this never-ending season with a trophy.
“Now our focus is on the Europa League because this is a really good trophy and we want to win,” Bruno Fernandes told MUTV.
“I came to Manchester to win trophies. We need to play every game to win. If we go into the Europa League and win every game, we know we’ll win the trophy.”
United, Europa League winners in 2017, could yet find themselves facing Premier League rivals Wolverhampton Wanderers in the semifinals in Cologne on Aug. 16 should both teams get there.
Wolves entertain Greek champions Olympiakos on Thursday having drawn 1-1 in the first leg of their last-16 tie.
Their campaign started more than a year ago now, with a 2-0 win over Northern Irish side Crusaders in the second qualifying round on July 25, 2019.
Extending it by another couple of weeks would do them no harm.