Premier League clubs voice restart concern

Brighton chief executive Paul Barber has warned a premature return from the coronavirus pandemic could "cost lives" as opposition continues to grow to the Premier League's ''Project Restart'.

Watford became the latest club to rail against plans to end the season at neutral venues, with chairman Scott Duxbury saying the league has a "duty of care" to address concerns about a "distorted nine-game mini-league".

Barber has made Brighton's opposition plain from the start but he ramped up his concerns, telling the Daily Mail: "We have got to be careful that we do not misstep here because if we do, it could ruin lives. It could cost lives. And we cannot afford that."

Before Monday's crunch meeting of top-flight shareholders, Watford, Brighton and Aston Villa have now made their opposition to the current plans clear.

The plan to use neutral grounds for the remaining 92 fixtures sticks in Duxbury's craw, with Watford 17th in the Premier League and looking to stave off relegation amid a challenging backdrop brought by Covid-19.

"There is no altruism in the Premier League," he said.

"There are 20 different vested interests, which sometimes align but more often than not work purely to protect each individual club...

"But when at least six clubs - and I suspect more - are concerned about the clear downside and the devastating effects of playing in this kind of distorted nine-game mini-league, then I believe the Premier League has a duty of care to address those concerns."

Duxbury accepts matches must be played behind closed doors due to the ongoing coronavirus situation but having to play away from Vicarage Road is not an idea he buys into.

"With all these compromises and health risks we are asked to finish a competition that bears no resemblance to the one we started, which could end a small club like Watford's time in the Premier League," he said.

"So is this fair? Does it have any semblance of sporting integrity? Of course not."

There was at least one bright spot for European football on Saturday as the Betri League season commenced in the Faroe Islands, which has no known cases of the coronavirus.

The clamour to show live action has led the Norwegian broadcaster TV2 and Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet to sign deals to show the first 12 rounds of the Faroese season live.

The first two rounds of the season are scheduled to be without fans before that decision will be reviewed.