Project Restart: Clubs Set for Fresh Meeting to Discuss Neutral Venues, Relegation & More

Premier League Trophy
Premier League Trophy | Michael Regan/Getty Images

It’s meeting time.

Clubs have had a week to informally discuss the plan for the Premier League’s return, but Thursday will bring about a new conference call between all 20 clubs to get to the bottom of how this restart malarkey is going to go down.

There’s a lot on the agenda, so let’s dive right in.

Wembley Stadium has been considered as a neutral venue.Wembley Stadium has been considered as a neutral venue.
Wembley Stadium has been considered as a neutral venue. | Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

As noted by Sky Sports News, one of the first things on the agenda will be the use of neutral venues to finish the season – something which league and club officials are eager to avoid.

Manchester City vs Liverpool, Manchester City vs Newcastle, Manchester United vs Sheffield United, Newcastle vs Liverpool, Everton vs Liverpool, and the game in which Liverpool could secure the title have all been recommended to be held at neutral venues by the police.

The Premier League are confident they could help keep fans safe during these ‘high-risk’ games, but the matter will be discussed by all 20 clubs before a decision is made.

Tom Heaton was initially ruled out for the season through injury.Tom Heaton was initially ruled out for the season through injury.
Tom Heaton was initially ruled out for the season through injury. | Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images

The idea of allowing alterations to teams’ 25-man squads will also be discussed as some teams now have players who have recovered from long-term injuries.

For example, Newcastle’s Paul Dummett and Aston Villa’s Tom Heaton were both left out of squads back in February as neither were expected to be fit before the season ended, but now that has changed and clubs are interested in adding their once-stricken stars to their teams.

Allowing players who are returning from loans or completing permanent transfers on 1 July to join the squads will also be up for debate, but it is expected that most sides will shoot that idea down fairly quickly.

FIFA have encouraged the use of five substitutes in each game to try and help keep players fresh during what will undoubtedly be a hectic few months, and Chelsea have even asked for permission to name nine substitutes, rather than seven.

Both plans have been met with resistance from some teams who feel that the plans would only benefit those with deeper squads.

Daniel Farke's Norwich are currently bottom of the Premier League.Daniel Farke's Norwich are currently bottom of the Premier League.
Daniel Farke’s Norwich are currently bottom of the Premier League. | Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

If the season finishes normally (or as normal as possible), relegation will not be impacted. However, if the season is again halted and called to an abrupt end in a few weeks, that might not be the case.

League officials want to decide the final table using a points-per-game system, but there are concerns this could be unfair for teams with particularly tough runs of fixtures over the coming weeks.

Many bottom-half sides want relegation scrapped, but the FA is not interested. The EFL have threatened to sue if their teams are not granted promotion to the top flight, and The Telegraph note that a 23-club league is not an option. It’s carnage.

Somehow, VAR has managed to worm its way into the conversation, because we hadn’t heard enough from the infamous system this year already.

FIFA have granted permission for leagues to get rid of VAR for the remainder of the campaign, but the Premier League want to keep it. Most clubs are in agreement, so this part of the discussion shouldn’t take long.

Premier League clubs are expected to cope with the financial pressure of the coronavirus crisis fairly comfortably, but the same cannot be said of the rest of English football – with many lower-league and women’s sides fearing it could force them to collapse.

The Telegraph state that there is yet to be any significant support from the Premier League, which has left the government calling for help for the ‘entire football family’.

The top flight are understood to be focused on sorting out their own future first, but the idea of financial support will soon be put on their agenda.

We already know that football will get underway on 17 June when Manchester City face Arsenal and Sheffield United meet Aston Villa, and the Evening Standard note that we could have the full fixture list for the next gameweek by the end of Thursday’s meeting.

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Manchester City - Premier LeagueWolverhampton Wanderers v Manchester City - Premier League
Wolverhampton Wanderers v Manchester City – Premier League | Marc Atkins/Getty Images

In an attempt to make things for entertaining for fans, broadcasters had been pushing to increase the number of cameras and microphones around the stadium on match day, including dressing-room cameras and half-time player interviews, but those plans have been swiftly shot down.

That’s according to the Daily Mail, who state that cubs were not keen on the added chaos and behind-the-scenes access. The only changes which are likely to be confirmed are an audio feed of the pre-match coin toss and an extra camera to see teams running out of the tunnel.

Only one commentator and co-commentator will be granted access to stadiums, meaning many will be left reporting on the games from off-site studios, and there will also be no filming on the pitch before or after games.

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