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Premier League Reportedly to Play at Neutral Sites If Season Resumes

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMay 1, 2020

WHICHFORD, ENGLAND - APRIL 17:  Nike Premier League Strike Football photographed on April 23, 2020 in Whichford, Warwickshire, United Kingdom. No Premier League matches have been played since March 9th due to the Coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic. (Photo by VISIONHAUS)
Visionhaus/Getty Images

The Premier League will reportedly complete the 2019-20 season at neutral sites without fans in attendance if given clearance to resume play amid the coronavirus pandemic.

ESPN's Mark Ogden reported on Friday that the league has ruled out playing typical home-and-away matches because of "concerns over thousands of fans congregating outside their team's stadium for key games."

"Sources have told ESPN that, with social distancing measures likely to be in place for months, the need for fans to stay at home is of paramount importance and that the selection of match venues would be made in order to ensure supporters do not travel to games," the report noted.

In turn, Liverpool won't be able to clinch the Premier League championship at Anfield. The Reds need just six points from their remaining nine fixtures to secure the title.

Potential neutral-site venues include "some current Premier League stadiums, Wembley Stadium and one other unnamed ground," per Ogden.

Laura Scott of BBC Sport reported the league would need to secure up to 40,000 COVID-19 tests for players and staff if the season, which has 92 total matches remaining, will be completed.

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"No decisions were taken at today's meeting and clubs exchanged views on the information provided regarding 'Project Restart,'" the Premier League said in a statement on Friday.

Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero expressed concern about a return to action during an interview with Spanish TV station El Chiringuito (via Matias Grez of CNN):

"Obviously, the players are scared. Especially because they have kids, families, maybe they're with their parents. I'm with my girlfriend here and I'm not going to have any contact with other people. I'm locked up at home and the only one I could spread it to is my girlfriend. What I'm saying, at the end of the day, is that the way it spreads is too weird and it's very difficult."

Premier League play has been halted since March 13 because of the pandemic. The Dutch Eredivisie and France's Ligue 1 are among the European leagues that have canceled the remainder of the season.