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Villa oppose neutral venues plan, claiming it will cost clubs £200m



Aston Villa CEO Christian Purslow. Photo: Mike Egerton/PA Wire

Aston Villa CEO Christian Purslow. Photo: Mike Egerton/PA Wire


Aston Villa CEO Christian Purslow. Photo: Mike Egerton/PA Wire

Aston Villa have become the second Premier League club to go public with their opposition to finishing the season at neutral venues, claiming they were being asked to risk inflicting a "£200 million catastrophe" on themselves.

Villa chief executive Christian Purslow spoke out as the League Managers Association warned that the campaign would be cancelled if teams refused to surrender home advantage.

Purslow, who joined Brighton counterpart Paul Barber in confirming his opposition to the neutral venues plan, told Talksport: "Personally, I am against it."

Pointing out that two-thirds of second-bottom Villa's wins this season had come at home and that six of their remaining 10 matches are at Villa Park, he added: "Giving up that advantage is a massive decision and I certainly wouldn't agree to it unless the circumstances are right. My duty is to my club."


Scrapping relegation this season has been cited as one way of securing the support of clubs in danger of going down. Purslow said of the drop: "Losses the 'Big Six' are suffering run to tens of millions and the restart is a project designed to recoup some of the losses we are suffering.

"But, at the bottom, it's different. None of us are playing in Europe. None of us are generating millions on match day. It's a much smaller revenue base and the risk of relegation is probably a £200 million (€230m) catastrophe for any club that mathematically could still go down.

"So, when you say to a club near the bottom, 'We want you to agree to a bunch of rule changes that may make it more likely that you may get relegated', they are thinking about agreeing to something that may lose them £200 million."

Purslow compared the row over Project Restart to Brexit and said the "crucial" health-and-safety protocols needed to be put in place for football's return had yet to be agreed.

"I assure you, players' welfare is our absolute priority," he added. "For me, the single biggest issue yet to be agreed, which goes to the heart of safety, is what do we do when we restart with players who test positive?

"Are we saying if four players test positive on a Thursday, the game must go on?"

The LMA chief executive Richard Bevan yesterday told BBC Radio 4's 'Today' programme it was "probably correct" that a vote against neutral venues by clubs would lead to the season being cancelled. (© Daily Telegraph, London)