In what we see as a direct threat to Leeds United getting promoted, Aston Villa CEO Christian Purslow has admitted that he will not agree to play in neutral venues ‘unless the circumstances were right’.
Playing in neutral venues is a key part of Project Restart, the Premier League’s plan to getting the rest of the season played.
In turn, that’s the clearest path to Leeds getting promoted and these comments now have to be seen as a threat the EFL must take seriously.
EFL chairman Rick Parry warned of legal action if three teams weren’t promoted and relegated from the Premier League and we think Purslow’s official comments are a direct threat to this.
The Mail had reported that the bottom clubs in the Premier League want relegation taken off the table if they are to agree to playing at neutral venues.
Purslow makes Villa the first club to confirm that stance, although he didn’t explicitly talk about wanting relegation off the table.
What he did talk about was a “£200m catastrophe” if Villa were relegated and that “every club has to protect its own financial interests”. It doesn’t take a genius to join the dots.
Purslow was on the Breakfast show on talkSPORT (Wednesday, 9am) and said, “Neutral grounds is just one component in a whole package of measures that will have to be discussed.
“Personally, I’m against it. We’re a club that prides itself on our home form, two-thirds of our wins have come at home this season, six of our remaining games are at home. I wouldn’t agree unless the circumstances were right.
“The risk of relegation is probably a £200m catastrophe for clubs. There are no rights and wrongs here, every club has to protect its own financial needs.”
Purslow is right that every club has to look out for its own financial needs.
But he also knows there’s no solution to the current problem that will make everyone happy.
Playing at neutral grounds takes home advantage away from everyone. If that’s the only way to get games played then it’s a small sacrifice that all clubs should be willing to make.
Villa are where they are because of form over three-quarters of the season.
That includes disastrous away form and he doesn’t talk about this. With all clubs losing home advantage, what he loses from playing at Villa Park, he’ll gain from not having to play at other club’s home grounds.
Neutral venues are a leveller and the clearest path to relegation and promotion – the rules all clubs signed up to at the start of the season.
This should be called out for what it is – naked self-interest from Villa – and it should be condemned.
In other Leeds United news, ‘This is a major story’ – Phil Hay relays news that could have big impact on Leeds promotion