Watford opposes Project Restart’s idea of playing in neutral venues

Watford are the latest Premier League club to oppose the league’s Project Restart. This project will see the remaining 92 games of the 2019/20 season played behind closed doors at 8 to 10 neutral venues.

The likes of Brighton and Aston Villa have already publicly opposed the proposals as they believe that sacrificing home advantage could hamper their chances of avoiding relegation and also compromise the integrity of the competition.

Watford chief executive Scott Duxbury voiced the same concerns and insisted that the Premier League must embrace its duty to care for all its clubs.

“There is no altruism in the Premier League,” wrote Duxbury in The Times.

“There are 20 different vested interests which sometimes align but more often than not work purely to protect each individual club.

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“That is why some clubs are happy to sign up to Project Restart because arguably there is only an upside in participating in this compromised format; it means Liverpool can win the title, other clubs can book their place in Europe next season or potentially fight their way up the table from a position of safety.

“But when at least six clubs – and I suspect more – are concerned about the clear downside and the devastating effects of playing in this kind of distorted nine-game mini-league, then I believe the Premier League has a duty of care to address those concerns.

“In the world of Covid-19, there is no such thing as an entirely safe environment wherever we play.

“The police also talk about fans flouting restrictions when football restarts and that this is a concern for the authorities, but I believe we would have more control over supporters playing at our own grounds.”

Premier League shareholders are scheduled to meet on Monday to make a decision on the best way to proceed. 

The meeting which was initially set for Friday was pushed back to allow time for the consideration of the implications of Boris Johnson’s address to the nation on Sunday on how the fight against coronavirus is shaping up and plans to put in place as they move forward.