Premier League to move or postpone Leicester home games if needed
The Premier League will consider postponing Leicesters remaining home matches after the city was put back into lockdown.
There was uncertainty on Tuesday as to what would happen to Leicesters game against Crystal Palace on Saturday after the health secretary, Matt Hancock, told Sky News it would go ahead as planned. The leagues chief executive, Richard Masters, however, told the culture and sport department select committee he was “waiting to hear” a decision and the club were in talks over how to progress.
Asked about contingency plans in the event of a rise in Covid-19 cases, as has happened in Leicester, Masters told the committee: “I would say just about every eventuality has been discussed by ourselves and DCMS officials at some point. We have had huge discussions about the use of neutral venues.
“We are waiting to hear but if what is happening in Leicester does affect their ability to host home games, either the match on Saturday against Crystal Palace at 3pm or subsequent matches, we have the opportunity to put them elsewhere or postpone the matches until it is safe to [play them]. Contingency plans are part of our overall planning.”
Masters went on to say the league could “clearly” cope with localised outbreaks of Covid-19 as it continues attempts to complete the season, with 27 of the remaining 92 games having been played.
If several locations were forced to return into lockdown, Masters admitted the season could be curtailed. “Theres always a possibility of the season not being completed,” he said. “Its dependent on the course of the virus and the governments response.
“Were responding to Leicester now and planning to adapt to the neutral venues model if necessary. We can clearly cope with the situation in Leicester, we can adapt to that. If it were to happen in multiple areas there is that risk we cannot complete the season.”
As part of the restart process the leagues 20 clubs agreed to defer discussions on the details of curtailment until it became a likely possibility.
Leicester were conducting meetings at the club on Tuesday. They were also believed to be seeking further guidance from government as they coordinated a response to the local lockdown announced by Hancock at 9pm on Monday.
Speaking to Sky News, Hancock had said the match would go ahead as planned but added: “Were recommending against all but essential travel both to and from and within Leicester. And as we saw during the peak, the vast majority of people will abide by these rules.
As well as Palace, Leicester are due to play two other teams at the King Power Stadium: Sheffield United in the week beginning Monday 13 July and a final fixture against Manchester United on Sunday 26 July.