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Police Wants Some Premier League Games at Neutral Venues; Only Cricket Can Restart In India with Bundesliga Rules, Says Bhutia and More (Football Round-up)

Short Passes (Football News Round-up): Police wants several Premier League games to be staged at neutral venues | Only cricket can restart in India if Bundesliga rules are followed: Bhaichung Bhutia | Russia to allow spectators in stadium when top-flight resumes | La Liga 2020-21 season to start on September 12 | Fate of League One season still unclear, FA Cup final on August 1
Premier League restart, police requests neutral venues

The head of the police department has requested the Premier League to consider a neutral ground for some matches including Manchester City vs Liverpool, Manchester City vs Newcastle, Newcastle vs Liverpool and Everton vs Liverpool (Pic: Sky, Twitter).

British police asked that at least six Premier League matches and any Liverpool match that seals the title be played at a neutral venue once the season resumes. The worry is that these ‘high risk games’ could attract crowds outside the stadium.

Also Read | AIFF Gets to Hide Behind Covid-19 Pandemic While Footballers Rust and Wither Away

The head of the police department has requested the Premier League to consider a neutral ground for matches such as: Manchester City vs Liverpool, Manchester City vs Newcastle, Manchester United vs Sheffield United, Newcastle vs Liverpool and Everton vs Liverpool.

“Our discussions with the Premier League throughout this process have been positive, with a shared focus on the priority of public health,” Deputy Chief Constable Mark Roberts of South Yorkshire Police said. “As such we have reached a consensus that balances the needs of football, while also minimising the demand on policing.

“The majority of remaining matches will be played, at home and away as scheduled, with a small number of fixtures taking place at neutral venues, which, contrary to some reports, have yet to be agreed.”

Jürgen Klopp’s runaway leaders will be denied any opportunity to win the club’s first league title in 30 years at Anfield if these plans are approved. Liverpool and Everton plan to oppose the idea of playing at neutral venues next week. 

Bhutia on Sports Restart in India

Bhaichung Bhutia is worried that resumption of sports in India will be restricted to just one sport, cricket. Various sports have resumed cautiously. This includes the Bundesliga, K-League, Danish Superliga, Vincy Premier League in cricket and the All-Czech tournament in tennis among others. 

Also Read | Mind Over Everything Else: New Approach Needed for Mental Wellbeing of Athletes Post Covid-19 Lockdown

On being asked about his opinion on the resumption of sports in a conversation with the Hindustan Times, Bhutia said, “That will depend on rules governments frame but if the testing protocols of Bundesliga and K-League are to be followed, maybe only cricket can restart given the cost involved.”

“But given the situation we are in, I would have accepted an empty stadium for that match,” says Bhutia. “The show must go on; even if it means players don’t get that extra 15, 20% ‘josh’ from a full house. I have played to empty stands too. As a player you learn to adjust.”

Bhutia, a former head of the Technical Committee of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) also offered support to the recently recommended foreign player reduction ruling for domestic football. The AIFF has reduced the foreign player criteria to 3 (foreigners) + 1 (Asian recruit) starting from the 2021 season. The ruling will be upheld by the I-League first.

On the other hand, the former captain highlighted the need to increase fixtures for players. “The way to do it [improve] is to have more teams. Our season should begin early September and end late April. We also need a cup competition where a second division team plays an ISL team. The AIFF needs to push for this,” he said.

Russia to Allow Spectators in Stadiums

Russia’s Sports Minister, Oleg Matytsin agreed to allow spectators into stadiums once top professional football leagues resume next month. 

“It’s important that the soccer championship resumes in the presence of spectators, even though small in number,” Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin said. “I watched Bundesliga matches. The mood is very strange. There isn’t enough emotion. Without spectators the matches do not look the way we are used to.”

The Russian Premier League was suspended mid-March because of the Covid-19 crisis and is scheduled to resume action on June 21.

A Russian consumer health watchdog group supported the decision to welcome fans to Russian Premier League matches provided they didn’t exceed 10% of the given venue’s capacity. 

La Liga New Season to Start on Sept. 12

La Liga President Javier Tebas said that a new season of La Liga is going to start on September 12 if the organisers' attempt to complete the season goes according to plan.

La Liga is scheduled to start on June 11 and finish on July 19 after it received government approval last week.

All matches will be played in empty stadiums, even though fixtures have not been officially announced.

"The important thing will be when the season finishes although we'll only be able to congratulate ourselves when we start the following season," Tebas said on Friday in an online forum organised by Spanish newspaper Marca. "God willing that day will be September 12 and hopefully we'll be able to say we have overcome this most difficult period but at least we will be better prepared."

La Liga also plans to add virtual crowds to the television broadcast of matches. Tebas said spectators at home could also have the option of hearing pre-recorded crowd noise or enjoy the live broadcast from the empty stadiums.

FA Cup Final on August 1

League One clubs are likely to remain steeped in uncertainty for a long time as chances of the third tier resuming this season continued to shrink.

English Football League (EFL) clubs will meet on June 8 to decide on the league’s new mechanism for ending a campaign early since the pandemic has ruled out a normal ending of the league.

“A decision on whether or not to curtail the season is a matter to be considered by clubs in any affected division, but only once a framework for resolving open issues in such circumstances has been agreed by all members across all divisions through a regulation change,” the EFL said in a statement.

Once this framework is approved, League One clubs are going to take a vote on whether they want to start the suspended fixture list or bring things to a halt.

The Football Association (FA) meanwhile has fixed the date for the FA cup final for August 1. The decision came after the Premier League announced the restart of its season. The quarter-finals of the FA Cup will be held on June 27-28, with the semi-finals scheduled for July 11-12.

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