Crystal Palace chairman Steve Parish defends Premier League restart stance: 'Neutral venues the least-worst option'

Crystal Palace chairman Steve Parish warns clubs objecting to restart must consider financial threat

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Steve Parish has backed proposals for Project Restart at neutral venues

Crystal Palace chairman Steve Parish believes people opposed to football returning at neutral grounds "aren't looking far enough down the road" amid growing fears of the economic impact of the coronanvirus pandemic.

In his column in The Sunday Times, Parish wrote that he would understand if the nation decided that it was inappropriate for football to return, but he argued it would help no one if football or any industry "come out the other side in a worse state than we otherwise could have".

The Premier League will reconvene on Monday discuss 'Project Restart' with clubs committed to finishing the season when some social restrictions are relaxed. It is understood the league is still working towards a best-case scenario of play being able to resume from the week beginning June 8.

Patrick van Aanholt is mobbed by team-mates after opening the scoring against Newcastle
Image: Parish believes the repercussions of not returning to playing soon could be grave

Parish told The Football Show on Tuesday that completing the Premier League season at neutral venues is the "least-worst option" and claims he would take the same stance if his club were in the relegation zone.

When asked if his position would be different if Palace were in the bottom three, Parish told Sky Sports: "I said this in the meeting and I honestly believe that I would be saying the same thing. I do fear that people aren't looking far enough down the road and seeing the consequences of us not playing. I think the best way to resolve that is to do so competitively.

"It's the least worst option. That's the territory we're in with life at the moment. Next season, in all likelihood, we'll start with neutral grounds, and I'm sure we'd like to get back into our stadiums as soon as possible. There will be a distortion of the competition that way around.

"All the pitches are pretty much the same size, and an empty stadium is an empty stadium. I think it'll be a level playing field from when we start.

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"As with any season, there will be bumps and idiosyncrasies... you can have injuries during the season and fixtures rescheduled, all sorts of things that can play against you during the season. Luck does play a part and I'm sure most clubs now will have a fully fit squad so there are swings and roundabouts."

'No visibility past August for any revenue'

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Image: It could be some time before Palace return to playing at Selhurst Park

Parish claimed earlier this week that the return of the Premier League could offer people small relief from worries of the coronavirus crisis and help define the "new normal" for other industries.

The Palace co-owner defended attempts to get the season back up and running amid the pandemic, and while he acknowledged the importance of public health being put before sport, he admitted the bleak reality of revenue streams drying up beyond August.

He added: "This is a massive public health crisis, and we all accept that comes before everything. But after the public health crisis there is an economic crisis, and we're no different. My job is to try and look forward, protect the jobs of people in our industry and the health of our industry going forward. We are in a very unusual situation; we have events we need to put on and if we don't, we'll be in a very critical situation.

Crystal Palace training ground, Beckenham
Image: Crystal Palace are yet to return to their training ground in Beckenham

"People don't fully understand just how bad a situation we will be in if we don't at least try and get those games done. We've got to bring a lot of people with us to do that, not least the players.

"The players not only have to be safe they have to feel safe and we need to explain to them how we will make that environment as safe as we possibly can and remove any unnecessary risks. A lot of work and planning needs to go into it. When we get there, the environment will almost decide if we can do it.

"If we can't, it's very likely this will look the same as it does now in August and September, all of the things we're talking about - neutral grounds etc - will all still be present next year. It's going to be a very different product.

"We already know that we're seriously damaged, we've got no crowds, the sponsorship market is largely gone, there is no food or hospitality revenue, the only thing we have left for some time is the broadcast revenue. The product will look very different.

"Right now, we have no visibility past August for any revenue. It's a serious situation for football. It cannot come in front of what's going on because the public health crisis is the absolute priority for the country."

Premier League restart: A key week ahead

James Ward-Prowse tangled with Wilfried Zaha during a lively battle
Image: The Premier League are going to be guided by what the government say

This is 'a significant week for the future of football in this country', according to Sky Sports' latest podcast.

In an in-depth preview, Sky Sports News' chief reporter Bryan Swanson and reporter Kaveh Solhekol explain where Project Restart - the plan to resume football in England - is up to, what needs to happen before football can return and the hurdles which must still be overcome.

Read an edited version of their explainer or listen to their analysis in full on a special Sky Sports Football podcast.

Download the Sky Sports Football podcast on: Spotify | Apple | Castbox | Spreaker

Watch The Football Show every weekday from 9-11am on Sky Sports News and Sky Sports Premier League and get involved using #SkyFootballShow

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