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Watford claim Liverpool are reason for voting against EPL restart plans

Watford have explained why they are ready to vote against plans to resume the Premier League – citing Liverpool as a reason neutral grounds should not be used.

The Hornets have joined fellow strugglers Aston Villa and Brighton in going public with their opposition to ‘Project Restart’, which hopes to have the top flight back in action in mid-June.

It is understood at least six clubs are against the plans, which the Premier League were hoping to finalise in their next meeting on Monday after the government outline their lockdown strategy on Sunday.

However, it appears the split could prompt further discussions next week before a roadmap back to action is agreed upon.

The decision for all clubs to forego home advantage and play their remaining games at neutral venues is the primary sticking point, with those fighting against relegation determined to play home matches at their own stadiums.

And Watford chairman and chief executive Scott Duxbury believes the confidence Liverpool have in their own fans not to congregate on Anfield if and when the title is secured shows the same can apply to supporters of all clubs.

“Do the authorities seriously believe our clubs, in their own grounds, cannot deliver a safe environment for the 300 or so people involved in hosting a single Premier League match?” said Duxbury.

“Because, in the world of Covid-19, there is no such thing as an entirely safe environment wherever we play.

“The police also talk about fans flouting restrictions when football restarts and that this is a concern for the authorities, but I believe we would have more control over supporters playing at our own grounds.

“After all, Liverpool were emphatic their fans would be sensible and listen to club instructions when their own mayor came out against a return to football.

“If Liverpool wholeheartedly believe this when they are 25 points clear and on the brink of a first title for 30 years, I’m sure all other fans would follow suit.”

Watford are the only team to have beaten Liverpool in the Premier League this season having won 3-0 at Vicarage Road in February.

And writing in The Times, Duxbury has suggested the Reds are happy to sign up to ‘Project Restart’ because it gives them an opportunity to win the title.

“Critics will say my position is founded on self-interest and they would be absolutely right,” he said. “I have a duty to protect my club and the people employed by it.

“There is no altruism in the Premier League. There are 20 different vested interests, which sometimes align but more often than not work purely to protect each individual club.

“That is why some clubs are happy to sign up to Project Restart because arguably there is only an upside in participating in this compromised format; it means Liverpool can win the title, other clubs can book their place in Europe next season or potentially fight their way up the table from a position of safety.

“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.”

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