Localised lockdown may force Leicester to postpone matches

Club are waiting to hear if they may have to postpone or move upcoming home games

A police car on Gallowtree Gate in Leicester after the Health Secretary Matt Hancock imposed a local lockdown following a spike in coronavirus cases in the city. Photo: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

A police car on Gallowtree Gate in Leicester after the Health Secretary Matt Hancock imposed a local lockdown following a spike in coronavirus cases in the city. Photo: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

 

The Premier League is waiting to hear whether the localised lockdown in Leicester will force the club to postpone home games or play at a neutral venue.

The league’s chief executive Richard Masters was asked what the situation was following the decision to impose a stricter lockdown in the city because of a spike in coronavirus cases.

“We are waiting to hear,” he told MPs at a Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee evidence session.

He did say that the league had contingencies to “put matches elsewhere or postpone them until it is safe to do so”.

“Of course contingencies are part of our planning,” he added.

Leicester are due to host Crystal Palace at the King Power Stadium on Saturday.

Masters was also asked about the mass gatherings which followed Liverpool’s Premier League title win, in particular one which involved fireworks being aimed at the Liver Building in the city centre.

Questioned as to whether the Premier League took any responsibility for what unfolded, he said: “What happened was regrettable but we are not in control of people’s actions.

“It got out of hand in the same way that we have seen gatherings on beaches and street parties in wider society.

“Individuals have to take responsibility for their own actions.”

He praised Liverpool as a club for the ‘stay home’ messaging they had issued to their supporters.

He was also asked about the lack of updates for supporters regarding the proposed Saudi-led takeover of Newcastle.

Those leading the £300million buyout must first pass the league’s owners and directors test, but the process has taken a long time.

“We can’t provide a running commentary on things, I can’t talk about the specifics of this,” he said.

“There are legal requirements that need to be observed.”

The World Trade Organisation found that the Saudi state had facilitated the activities of the beoutQ pirate broadcasting network, while the league has also been told it is at risk of “becoming a patsy” for the Saudis by Amnesty International over its human rights record.

Masters said spectators coming back to matches was “the most important part of the return” at Premier League level and below but said it would be a Government decision on when it was safe for that to happen.

He said a working group was “looking at the specifics and the conditions that would need to be met” for fans to return.

“Football is willing to play a part in that, offer technical solutions and act as a guinea pig.”

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