Premier League

Bottom sides could be forced to accept relegation

The bottom three sides could be forced to accept the concept of relation by the rest of the Premier League.

Amongst the options discussed under the board umbrella of Project Restart was a proposal to play all the remaining league fixtures at neutral grounds in order to minimise unnecessary travel. A number of clubs near the foot of the table have been opposed to the idea, arguing that it would undermine the integrity of the competition and put them in a comparative disadvantage as they battle to avoid the drop.

However, several of them have since indicated that they would be willing to change their minds if the threat of relegation was taken off the table.

That, though, has cut no ice with the major broadcast partners, Sky Sports and BT Sports, who because of the sheer value of their commercial deals for the Premier League have a major say in what happens. Faced with the difficult prospect of having to show games in empty stadiums, they are insisting that relegation must stay and that, without an element of moral hazard involved, the fixtures cannot be competitive.

The loudest opposition to the neutral grounds idea has come from the teams just above the relegation zone – Brighton, West Ham, and Watford – but their position could be set to be undermined.

That is because, although not expected immediately, the Premier League could vote on whether to allow relegation or not, and, with only 14 clubs required to pass a motion, the majority could just impose their will.

And that could force the bottom three teams – Bournemouth, Aston Villa, and Norwich City – to swing behind the idea of neutral grounds.

The alternatives facing them are potentially worse. If no further games are played, and the Premier League follows the example of France, relegation could be decided either on the basis of points per game, or current league standings. Under either scenario they would be relegated.

Therefore, they would be better taking their chances on the pitch, albeit at a neutral venue, than to have their fate decided in the boardroom. 

Charles I Adebiyi Administrator

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