We’ll find out soon enough whether the Premier League is about to restart, be curtailed, or even voided. But there is an agenda at play with some clubs transparently trying to save their own skin.
The league is under pressure to return with finances stretched and players asked to take pay cuts and fans are desperate to see some action but only when it’s safe.
In recent weeks, much of the Premier League 2020 news has focused on the fluctuating prospects of a restart – with the saga of Liverpool’s attempt to win a first league title in three decades in everyone’s mind up north.
But the top flight’s plan to return is in danger of being scuppered by the six teams running scared at the bottom of the league.
Bournemouth and Aston Villa are currently in the drop zone along with bottom club Norwich City. And while the latest Premier League 2020 betting odds here at SBOBET suggest these three will struggle to escape, Watford, West Ham, and Brighton are also deep in the mire.
All eyes will be on Downing Street this weekend when the Prime Minister is due to publish his road map to exiting the current restrictions, and that will give a steer to the Premier League.
If the news in positive, the plan will be to use eight to ten neutral stadiums. But the bottom clubs claim they would be disadvantaged more than the other 14 for some reason.
Seagulls are flapping
Of the six sides in the relegation scrap, Aston Villa would be desperate for a restart rather than the season-ending now with points per game calculation, as that could mean a swift return to the Championship and the near-certain departure of talisman Jack Grealish.
But Brighton, who are just two points clear of the drop, would be delighted by that outcome. Their veteran striker Glenn Murray has already said that he favours a premature end to the season.
Seagulls’ chief executive Paul Barber has tried to justify Brighton’s resistance to the Premier League’s restart proposals by saying the loss of home advantage against big clubs would be a big disadvantage.
The south coast club is still to welcome Manchester City and Liverpool to the Amex, as well as Manchester United.
“Clearly, we must all be prepared to accept some compromises,” says Barber, “And we fully appreciate why playing behind closed doors is likely to be a necessary compromise to play our remaining games.”
“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.
On the basis that the Seagulls have failed to pick up a single point in their last 10 meetings with Manchester City and Liverpool — home or away — I rather think Barber is clutching at straws.
West Ham are one place and two points behind Brighton and outside the drop zone on goal difference alone, and they too want to play at their home stadium. The Hammers still have two home games against teams below them in Watford and Aston Villa, so I can see their point.
The next few days will be interesting. The league needs 14 of the 20 clubs to vote for a restart and some have already said they would be happy to do so providing relegation is scrapped.
But that won’t wash with the other 14 clubs, not to mention the top two teams in the Championship who are Leeds and WBA.
Chelsea fans not desperate for a restart
I was speaking to a mate of mine the other day who’s a lifelong Chelsea fan and asked whether he was hoping to see Premier League football again soon. But he was ambivalent to say the least.
Take a look at the league table and you’ll understand exactly why. Frank Lampard’s young guns have exceeded expectations this season with the likes of Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham stepping up comfortably, and they have a real gem in 18-year-old midfield dynamo Billy Gilmour.
A few weeks ago, they looked like they had a comfortable hold on their top-four place. But then, the Blues were beginning to show signs of fatigue, taking eight points from the last five games with only two wins, while a rejuvenated Manchester United and Wolves gathered pace in fifth and sixth position.
The gap between Chelsea and the Red Devils is down to three points. And with nine games remaining, this could be the most exciting race to the finish line.
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