Premier League’s big six could help Leeds in the relegation debate
Monday, 4th May 2020 21:51 by Tim Whelan
While the clubs at the wrong end of the Premier League table try to look after their own interests and block relegation even if the season can be completed, those at the top want relegation to operate as normal.
Brighton’s chief executive Paul Barber has publicly opposed the Premier League’s plan to complete the campaign using 10 neutral venues by saying that such a move would damage the integrity of the competition. He told the Guardian “The disadvantages of us not playing in our home stadium and in familiar surroundings, even with fans very unlikely to be present at the Amex, are very obvious.”
He acknowledged that Brighton would benefit when playing their ‘away’ fixtures, but this wouldn’t entirely compensate, because “the fixture list simply isn’t equally balanced at this stage of the season.” In other words Brighton would have been at home in 5 of the 9 games they still have to play.
West Ham’s Karen Brady is another trying to put a spanner in the works, writing in her Sun column that “The only common theme from all the clubs is that any compromises have to be fair and uphold the integrity of the game. There are a lot of obstacles to overcome”. In total six clubs are believed to be lobbying for relegation to be abandoned for the current season.
The League are desperately hoping it’s clubs maintain a unified front to convince the government to allow their matches to be completed, to avoid losing the £762million outstanding on the television contracts. The loss of this cash could be disastrous, when the FA warned today that it could be up to a year before fans can return to stadiums, so there may be a long period when the clubs have no matchday income.
But Daily Mail have reported that there was a heated argument during last Friday’s on-line shareholders’ meeting, and that the big six clubs all want promotion and relegation to be implemented as normal. Which will of course benefit Leeds. Perhaps they know that the Premiership needs us, because we can attract a far bigger TV audience than the likes of Brighton.
The Mail are claiming that one unnamed Chief Executive told them “They are threatening to destroy football just to avoid the risk of relegation. Their thinking is so short-sighted.” And some clubs have been accused of using their medical staff to stoke fear among players about the health risks of returning to action.
Meanwhile, the Times have reported that the broadcasters would regard scrapping relegation as a breach of their contracts. Presumably because they need an exciting relegation battle to boost viewing figures for the rest of the season, with the title all but decided already.
Under Premier League rules a two-thirds majority is needed to do anything, so 14 clubs need to vote for ‘Project Restart’ to be implemented as it currently stands, including relegation. One source has told the Mail that 13 clubs were in favour of Project Restart, six opposed and one was undecided. But others are claiming there are at least eight rebel clubs, which would be enough to veto the plan.
Without relegation there might still be the possibility that the Premier League would accept a larger division next season with at least Leeds and West Brom coming up. But it may well be that our hopes of promotion will come down to whether the Premier League can get the numbers to have their plan voted through, and it looks like a close-run thing. We’ll just have to keep everything crossed!
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