Premier League chief Richard Masters fires warning to fans as season resumes

Premier League chief Richard Masters has warned fans not to wreck Project Restart.

The Premier League kicks off again on Wednesday with games behind-closed-doors and a clear warning that some high-profile fixtures could yet have to be switched to neutral venues if supporters turn up to games.

Top Premier League bosses and stars will send out clear messages to ask fans not to turn up to stadiums during lockdown.

Police are already concerned about the threat of mass gatherings near grounds.

Prem chief executive Masters said: “Fans are going to get some very clear messages from their clubs, from the managers and club captains about staying away and watching at home.

"That's why all the matches are on TV and many of them on a wider distribution, free-to-air basis.

“We think the messaging is going to be very clear, we're very hopeful there won't be any incidents and gatherings outside football matches.

"We're hopeful it won't occur.

“But obviously should it occur, it might create a situation where the progress we've made on neutral venues could be at risk. As I've said, we're hopeful that won't occur.

“We have contingency plans in place in relation to neutral venues, obviously. We have discussions with a number of different clubs and we haven't revealed who they are.

“So really you're looking at a small number of fixtures that still remain 'at risk' – I think that's the best way of putting it.

"And also what would happen if things change. And we have contingency plans for both.”

Masters also admitted that the first games back – with Aston Villa hosting Sheffield United and Manchester City facing Arsenal – will feel strange without fans in the stadium.

There is also a push from clubs to get fans back to help with gate revenue and income and Masters stressed that “real progress” has been made after talks with the Government about a possible “phased” return for next season.

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Masters added: “Obviously it is going to be an odd experience without fans in the stadium and we’re going to start to witness it from tomorrow evening and the Premier League won’t be back with a capital B until fans are back.

“I think throughout our discussions with the Government and across sports and those key working groups, real progress has always been made.

“But it would be wrong to be talking about when because as far as we are concerned, as soon as the clubs are concerned, we’d like it to happen as soon as it’s safe and appropriate to do so.”

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