Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham avoid neutral Premier League stadiums as Liverpool and Manchester clubs moved

Dan Kilpatrick
Getty Images

All Premier League matches in London are set to take place at clubs’ home stadiums, despite plans to relocate up to six top-flight matches to neutral venues when the season resumes.

Clubs were on Thursday told that neutral venues remain on the table after agreeing to restart the campaign behind closed doors on June 17 , with Arsenal’s visit to Manchester City and Aston Villa’s match against Sheffield United set to be the first top-flight fixtures in 100 days.

Despite fears that London derbies — including Tottenham’s home matches against Arsenal and West Ham — could be among the fixtures relocated, police do not consider any matches in the capital to be high-risk.

However, up to six fixtures, including the game in which Liverpool could secure the title, are set to be moved, with authorities considering Wembley to be the ideal neutral stadium because it is easy to police.

The matches being moving to neutral venues, at the request of local police forces, are Manchester City vs Liverpool; City vs Newcastle; Manchester United vs Sheffield United, Newcastle vs Liverpool, Everton vs Liverpool and the game in which Liverpool could secure the title.

'High-risk' matches

  • Man City vs Liverpool
  • Man City vs Newcastle
  • Man United vs Sheff United
  • Newcastle vs Liverpool
  • Everton vs Liverpool
  • Game Liverpool win title

Deputy Chief Constable Mark Roberts, the country’s most senior football police officer, said on Friday morning: “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.

“This plan will be kept continually under review to ensure public health and safety and a key part of this is for supporters to continue to respect the social distancing guidelines and not to attend or gather outside stadiums.”

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, who earlier this month told Standard Sport he was opposed to top-flight matches returning to the capital in June , maintains his concerns, telling LBC on Thursday: “I know, human nature as it is, fans will turn up to see the coach arriving, to listen to the atmosphere, the players inside the stadium, even though they’re not allowed in, to see the coach leaving, to buy [merchandise]. Police and councils need to enforce the rules.”

The season will be played over six weekends and three midweeks up to July 25-26, while this morning the FA announced dates for the remaining rounds of the FA Cup. The quarter-finals will be played the weekend of June 27-28, the semi-finals on July 18 and the final on August 1.

Arsenal, who visit Sheffield United in the quarters, could therefore face a glut of midweek games, while Chelsea are away at Leicester in the last-eight. The semi-finals and final are set to be played at Wembley.

All 92 remaining Premier League matches will be broadcast live, with a staggered seven-day schedule and four matches played back-to-back on Saturdays and Sundays.

Sky Sports will show the lion’s share of the outstanding fixtures, with 64 matches — 25 of which will be free-to-air — and the broadcaster has promised “digital innovations” to improve viewer experience, which are thought to include the option of fake crowd noise, dressing-room cameras and half-time manager interviews.

The BBC hailed an “historic moment” after being given four matches, while BT Sport will show 20 games and a further four will be on Amazon Prime.

Weekend fixtures are scheduled for 12.30pm, 3pm, 5.30pm and 8pm, with matches kicking off at 8pm on Mondays and Fridays and other midweek games at 6pm and 8pm.

There were also discussions yesterday on how to reduce the proposed £340million rebate due to broadcasters. It is thought that figure could be halved if the season is completed by the end of July.

If the campaign is curtailed again, the League are proposing deciding the table by an unweighted points-per-game basis which, as it stands, would see Norwich, Villa and Bournemouth relegated.

The Government have yet to give the green light for any sport to resume and Premier League chief executive Richard Masters insisted the June 17 restart date remains provisional — with clubs set for another meeting next Thursday to vote through the raft of proposals.

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