Watford have joined English Premier League clubs opposed to using neutral stadiums to restart the season.
There is a growing number of clubs voicing their opposition to using 8-10 neutral venues to complete the final 92 games of the 2019-20 Premier League season. Already, Brighton and Aston Villa have said they will not support playing in neutral stadiums.
Watford chairman Scott Duxbury wrote an open letter in The Times newspaper expressing his concern over the proposal.
“I, of course, absolutely accept we cannot have supporters in the stadium,” Duxbury said. “That goes without saying in the present situation. However, we are now told we cannot play our remaining home games at Vicarage Road and the familiarity and advantage that brings… 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,” he wrote.
Duxbury went on to say there are at least six teams, and probably more, who are concerned about the “devastating effects of playing in this kind of distorted nine-game mini-league.”
The Premier League needs 14 of their 20 clubs to vote in favour of ‘Project Restart’ plans for it to happen and neutral stadiums appear to be the main sticking point as the UK government has said that is the only way the 2019-20 season can resume.
Some PL stadiums are located in heavily populated areas where infection rates are high and the government sees it as an unnecessary risk.
Watford, Aston Villa and Brighton are of course all involved in the relegation scrap and if the season restarted and they were relegated, each club stands to lose over $250 million in revenue.
The next Premier League club meeting will be on Monday, May 11 to move ‘Project Restart’ to the next phase, and then will come a vote next week on possibly vote on resuming the season.
All 20 Premier League clubs have so far agreed that they want to finish the current season but only when things improve and it is safe to play again.