Watford voice concerns over Premier League’s ‘Project Restart’

LONDON, May 1, 2018 (Xinhua) — Tottenham Hotspur’s Jan Vertonghen (R) vies with Watford’s Kiko Femenia during the Premier League soccer match between Tottenham Hotspur and Watford at Wembley Stadium in London, Britain, on April 30, 2018. Tottenham Hotspur won 2-0. (Xinhua/Tim Ireland/IANS)

London, May 9 (IANS) Watford have become the latest club to publicly oppose the Premier League’s “Project Restart” plans. The club’s chief executive Scott Duxbury said that Watford needs to play at its home stadium Vicarage Road and that being asked to play at a neutral venue means they are suddenly asked to finish a competition that “bears no resemblance” to the one they were involved in earlier.

“Take a look at the compromises involved in Project Restart, which is aiming to resume the season on June 8 and play the remaining 92 Premier League games behind closed doors at neutral venues,” said Duxbury in his column for The Times on Saturday. “I, of course, absolutely accept we cannot have supporters in the stadium. 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. 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.”

Watford are currently placed 17th on the league table, one place above the relegation zone and are level on points with 18th placed Bournemouth.

“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,” he said.

Watford have thus joined Aston Villa and Brighton and Hove Albion in opposing Project Restart and Duxbory says there are at least six clubs who are concerned about restarting the league amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“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,” he said.

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