Coronavirus: Aston Villa against neutral venues amid threat of '£200m relegation catastrophe'

Wed 06 May 2020 | 14:34

Brighton have been joined by Aston Villa in opposing the idea to use neutral venues to conclude the Premier League season.

Aston Villa chief executive Christian Purslow says his club are against the idea of finishing the Premier League season at neutral venues.

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, a host of possibilities around how England's top flight could return are being debated as part of 'Project Restart'.

Purslow believes it will be difficult for clubs towards the bottom of the table to find consensus when relegation could be a "catastrophe" that costs teams around £200million.

However, he added there had been no discussion about the prospect of scrapping relegation entirely, which was recently reported.

"At the bottom end of the table there's a much, much smaller revenue base, but the risk of relegation is probably a £200m catastrophe for any club that mathematically could still go down," Purslow said to talkSPORT.

"When you say to any club, 'We want you to agree to a bunch of rule changes that may make it more likely that you get relegated', they're not thinking about TV money.

"They're thinking, 'My goodness, am I going to agree to something that results in me being relegated and losing £200m?'"

Of the proposal to end the season at eight to 10 neutral venues, which has been opposed by Brighton and Hove Albion, Purslow added: "Personally I'm against it.

"We're a club that prides itself on home form. Two-thirds of our wins this season have come at home and we've got six home games left to play.

"I think any Villa fan would agree that giving up that advantage is a massive decision for somebody running Aston Villa and I certainly wouldn't agree to that unless those circumstances are right.

"[Scrapping relegation] hasn't been discussed. I read it over the weekend and seen that that idea has been floated.

"At the bottom end of the table the financial equation is really rather different than at the top. I've had the privilege of working for two of the big six and the losses that those clubs are suffering run to tens of millions of pounds.

"Restart is a project designed to enable us to recoup some of the losses we are suffering – because, of course, television is the primary driver of that income.

"But at the bottom of the league it is a little different; none of us are playing in Europe, none of us are generating millions of pounds on a matchday."

Purslow added there also needed to be an agreement on whether a fixture would still be played in the event a team has multiple players test positive for COVID-19 in the lead up to matchday.

His comments come after manager Dean Smith said on Tuesday that Aston Villa could be without two players if the Premier League season is able to resume.

Highlighting another complication with any resumption of action, Smith explained one player in his squad is asthmatic and another has a vulnerable family member living at his home.

source: SportMob