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Highlights on Off The Ball

"Personally, I am against it" - Villa chief's negative on neutral venues

Aston Villa CEO Christian Purslow doesn't want to see Aston Villa's ten remaining Premier League ...


"Personally, I am against it" - Villa chief's negative on neutral venues

Aston Villa CEO Christian Purslow doesn't want to see Aston Villa's ten remaining Premier League games played at neutral venues.

English top flight clubs are due to vote on proposals contained within their 'Project Restart' document in a videoconference on Friday.

One of the suggestions still on the table for the remaining 92 matches is them being played at neutral venues.

"Personally, I am against it", Purslow told Talksport on Wednesday evening.

The former Liverpool managing director explained, "It’s a bit like the Brexit process; there is general agreement on what we want to achieve, which is try to find a way to put on football and complete the season, but how we do that is much more complicated.

"We are having to make quite significant changes; it’s like the Grand National which we are restarting at Ascot rather than Aintree and the horses aren’t the same and if jockeys are sick they change as well.

"So we’ve got a radically different product that we are all trying to find a way to put back on, and neutral grounds, which was revealed on Friday as something we are going to have to look at carefully, is just one example."

Purslow's not alone in this view.

Brighton chief executive Paul Barber claimed earlier this week that games at neutral venues would damage the integrity of the Premier League season.

Villa are currently second from bottom in the table, and Brighton are just 2-points clear of the relegation zone.

14 of the Premier League's 20 clubs need to vote in favour of the proposals for them to pass.

Guaranteed exposure is seemingly one guarantee that the Premier League can put forward on Friday.

The Times report that kick-off times in the Premier League and Championship - should they be given the all-clear to resume - would be staggered.

This would allow as many of the 200 remaining games in the top two tiers of English football to be televised.

Clearly, the UK government are on board with the notion of a returning Premier League.

At their daily coronavirus briefing on Tuesday, UK foreign secretary Dominic Raab said, "I think it would lift spirits of the nation".

Purslow still feels he'll need some convincing come Friday on the plan to play at neutral grounds.

"We are a club that prides itself on our home form; I think two thirds of our wins this season have come at home", he said on Wednesday evening.

Villa have won five of their thirteen games at Villa Park this season, but have the fourth worst home record in the Premier League.

Purslow added, "We’ve got six home games left to play so I think any Villa fan will agree that giving up that advantage is a massive decision for somebody running Aston Villa.

“And I certainly wouldn’t agree to that, unless the circumstances were right."

He conceded that the spectre of relegation has entered his thinking, telling Talksport, "The risk of relegation is a £200m catastrophe for any club that mathematically could still go down."

Purslow feels, however, he is on terra firma, "Every club has to protect its own financial position, and the positions are wildly different from top to bottom in our league.

"Hence the need to find something that works for everybody."



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Aston Villa Brighton Christian Purslow Coronavirus Covid-19 Paul Barber Premier League Project Restart