Watford chairman slams Premier League’s Project Restart in scathing rant

Watford chairman Scott Duxbury has publicly opposed the idea of neutral venues if Premier League action returns. The league have launched their ‘Project Restart’ plan, which is aiming for games to resume in June despite the ongoing coronavirus chaos. The idea of neutral venues has been proposed to limit travel and hopefully contain the spread of the coronavirus.

However, Watford chairman and chief executive Duxbury has slammed the Premier League’s proposal, insisting it takes the integrity out of the game.

“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.

“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.

“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.

“So is this fair? Does it have any semblance of sporting integrity? Of course not.

“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.

“If we start and finish a whole season under these conditions and at neutral venues when everybody knows the rules when we start, not created in a time of crisis, then that is clearly fair.

“To be asked to finish a quarter of the season under new rules and conditions is an entirely different proposition.

“How can the long-term future of clubs be determined under these fundamentally changed conditions? How is there any semblance of fairness? To wave aside all the fears and concerns is too simplistic.

“Surely all 20 clubs must agree the fairest way forward to complete the season?”

Watford are the third club, after Brighton and Aston Villa, to publicly oppose the neutral venue idea.

Premier League clubs will likely vote on the idea later this month.

However, 14 out of the 20 clubs must vote in favour and it’s understood more teams agree with Watford, Brighton and Aston Villa.


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