Norwich and Southampton players take a knee before kick-off in support of Black Lives Matter


Premier League stars continue to show solidarity with Black Lives Matter movement as Norwich and Southampton players kneel before kick off as football united against racism

  • Norwich and Southampton players took a knee ahead of kick-off on Friday  
  • The action was taken in support of the Black Lives Matter Movement 
  • Clubs have united against racism following the Premier League’s return

Norwich and Southampton became the latest Premier League clubs to show support for the Black Lives Matter movement after every player, member of staff and official took the knee.

This is the third occasion players have united against racism since the top-flight returned after Aston Villa, Sheffield United, Manchester City and Arsenal set the example on Wednesday.

Referee Kevin Friend joined the players by kneeling for around 10 seconds ahead of kick-off on Friday evening.

Norwich and Southampton became the latest clubs to show support for the Black Lives Matter

Referee Kevin Friend joined the players by kneeling for around 10 seconds ahead of kick-off

Referee Kevin Friend joined the players by kneeling for around 10 seconds ahead of kick-off

This is the third occasion that clubs have united against racism since the top-flight returned

This is the third occasion that clubs have united against racism since the top-flight returned

The words ‘Black Lives Matter’ can be seen on the back of each shirt in replace of the usual player names, a gesture which every Premier League club will be undertaking for the remaining fixtures this season. 

Players have been taking the knee following the killing of George Floyd in the United States which has sparked worldwide anti-racism protests.

Players have also been warming up in Black Lives Matter t-shirts ahead of matches.

Aston Villa and Sheffield United became the first Premier League clubs to take the action

Aston Villa and Sheffield United became the first Premier League clubs to take the action 

Villa’s home game with the Blades was the first match to see players kneel before kick-off and it was revealed Sheffield striker David McGoldrick and his captain proposed the idea to opposition goalkeeper Tom Heaton.

City and Arsenal followed suit in the later game.  

England striker Raheem Sterling was one of the players to repeat the action at the Etihad.

‘I see it as a massive step for the Premier League to allow something to happen,’ he said afterwards. 

‘It shows we’re going in the right direction. Little by little we’re seeing change, and I think that’s what black players and most of the rest of the country are hoping for.’ 

Manchester City and Arsenal repeated the gesture in Wednesday's second league fixture

Manchester City and Arsenal repeated the gesture in Wednesday’s second league fixture

Liverpool’s title run-in, Arsenal vs Spurs and Chelsea games – the Premier League’s ‘high risk’ ties


Police call for SIX ‘high risk’ Premier League games to be moved to neutral venues over crowd fears… with Liverpool, Man United, Chelsea and Newcastle all facing high-profile switches

  • Police have identified six ‘high risk’ PL games that could be at neutral venues
  • There are concerns fans could gather near grounds and breach lockdown rules 
  • Liverpool’s matches are of particular concern given they will win the title soon
  • There is concern about two Newcastle games amid their impending takeover 

Police have identified six fixtures of particular concern which will be staged at neutral venues when the Premier League returns, Sportsmail can reveal.

Three games involving Liverpool will be moved to a neutral venue, including the Merseyside derby and their likely title-winning game, though there is no possibility of Jurgen Klopp and Carlo Ancelotti’s sides meeting in Manchester.

There is also a concern about two Newcastle games.

The full list of games police hold concerns over are: Manchester City v Liverpool, Manchester City v Newcastle, Manchester United v Sheffield United, Newcastle v Liverpool, Everton v Liverpool and the game which takes Liverpool to the title.

At yesterday’s Premier League meeting 12 games were mentioned as potentially being moved to neutral venues – including a series of London derbies, as revealed by Sportsmail. The clubs involved still expect these matches to be moved, too.

Three of Liverpool’s games will be moved to a neutral venue when the Premier League returns

THE SIX GAMES POLICE FEAR MOST

Manchester City v Liverpool

Manchester City v Newcastle

Manchester United v Sheffield United

Newcastle v Liverpool

Everton v Liverpool

Liverpool’s title-winning game 

Other games that could be moved include: 

While there had been an initial plan to play all matches at neutral grounds, that was dismissed out of hand but other games could now be switched – including Liverpool’s remaining matches at Anfield before they inevitably take the title.

The six fixtures of concerns have been identified after individual forces were asked which games concerned them.

As yet, there are no fixtures relating to relegation-threatened sides, which could avoid the row over neutral venues which saw the bottom six insist that they wanted to retain home advantage.

But Sportsmail understands that additional relegation fixtures could be added if that aspect of the resumed season creates crunch matches in which large numbers are likely to gather. 

There is no possibility of the Merseyside derby taking place just down the road in Manchester

There is no possibility of the Merseyside derby taking place just down the road in Manchester

Newcastle's huge fan base is a concern, with the possible Saudi takeover adding excitement

Newcastle’s huge fan base is a concern, with the possible Saudi takeover adding excitement

It has not yet been decided where neutral games will be staged. Some of Britain’s 43 police force areas have said they are willing to stage them. Some have indicated they are not.

Discussions on that will now take place between the Premier League and senior football police officers, who today praised the league for their cooperative and positive contribution to security discussions.

Greater Manchester Police, whose chief constable expressed concerns about some fixtures two weeks ago, have identified three fixtures in their force area as ones they prefer to be held at neutral venues.

The United v Sheffield United match is unexpected and could be a consequence of the two cities’ relative proximity and this being the Blades’ first season back in the top flight. 

Newcastle’s huge fan base clearly concerns officers, with the possible Saudi takeover at St James Park heightening the air of expectation.

Liverpool need just two more wins to capture the Premier League and it could come as early as the opening weekend, if Manchester City lose to Arsenal and they beat Everton. 

The likes of Leeds and West Brom in the Championship could also be asked to play at neutral venues as both are edging towards promotion. 

Man United v Sheffield United could be a consequence of the two cities' relative proximity

Man United v Sheffield United could be a consequence of the two cities’ relative proximity

Manchester City's home match against Liverpool could be another switched to a neutral venue

Manchester City’s home match against Liverpool could be another switched to a neutral venue

A plan is now in place for the Premier League season to be concluded by July 25, with 92 games to be held in 39 days.

Premier League chief Richard Masters said in a statement on Thursday: He said: ‘We have provisionally agreed to resume the Premier League on Wednesday, June 17. 

‘But this date cannot be confirmed until we have met all the safety requirements needed, as the health and welfare of all participants and supporters is our priority.

‘Sadly, matches will have to take place without fans in stadiums, so we are pleased to have come up with a positive solution for supporters to be able to watch all the remaining 92 matches. 

‘The Premier League and our clubs are proud to have incredibly passionate and loyal supporters. 

‘It is important to ensure as many people as possible can watch the matches at home.’ 


Liverpool’s title run-in, Arsenal vs Spurs and Chelsea games – the Premier League’s ‘high risk’ ties


BREAKING NEWS: Police call for SIX ‘high risk’ Premier League games to be moved to neutral venues over crowd fears… with Liverpool, Man United, Chelsea and Newcastle all facing high-profile switches

  • Police have identified six ‘high risk’ PL games that could be at neutral venues
  • There are concerns fans could gather near grounds and breach lockdown rules 
  • Liverpool’s matches are of particular concern given they will win the title soon
  • There is concern about two Newcastle games amid their impending takeover 

Police have identified six fixtures of particular concern which will be staged at neutral venues when the Premier League returns, Sportsmail can reveal.

Three games involving Liverpool will be moved to a neutral venue, including the Merseyside derby and their likely title-winning game, though there is no possibility of Jurgen Klopp and Carlo Ancelotti’s sides meeting in Manchester.

There is also a concern about two Newcastle games.

The full list of games police hold concerns over are: Manchester City v Liverpool, Manchester City v Newcastle, Manchester United v Sheffield United, Newcastle v Liverpool, Everton v Liverpool and the game which takes Liverpool to the title.

Three of Liverpool’s games will be moved to a neutral venue when the Premier League returns

THE SIX GAMES POLICE FEAR MOST

Manchester City v Liverpool

Manchester City v Newcastle

Manchester United v Sheffield United

Newcastle v Liverpool

Everton v Liverpool

Liverpool’s title-winning game 

On Thursday, the division announced that the action would resume on June 17 with the two games clubs have in-hand before a full round of fixtures, involving all 20 sides, over the weekend of June 20. 

While there had been an initial plan to play all matches at neutral grounds, that was dismissed out of hand but other games could now be switched – including Liverpool’s remaining matches at Anfield before they inevitably take the title.

The six fixtures of concerns have been identified after individual forces were asked which games concerned them.

As yet, there are no fixtures relating to relegation-threatened sides, which could avoid the row over neutral venues which saw the bottom six insist that they wanted to retain home advantage.

But Sportsmail understands that additional relegation fixtures could be added if that aspect of the resumed season creates crunch matches in which large numbers are likely to gather.

The Times have reported that there are 12 ‘high risk’ matches that discussions are being held over.

There is no possibility of the Merseyside derby taking place just down the road in Manchester

There is no possibility of the Merseyside derby taking place just down the road in Manchester

Newcastle's huge fan base is a concern, with the possible Saudi takeover adding excitement

Newcastle’s huge fan base is a concern, with the possible Saudi takeover adding excitement

It has not yet been decided where neutral games will be staged. Some of Britain’s 43 police force areas have said they are willing to stage them. Some have indicated they are not.

Discussions on that will now take place between the Premier League and senior football police officers, who today praised the league for their cooperative and positive contribution to security discussions.

Greater Manchester Police, whose chief constable expressed concerns about some fixtures two weeks ago, have identified three fixtures in their force area as ones they prefer to be held at neutral venues.

The United v Sheffield United match is unexpected and could be a consequence of the two cities’ relative proximity and this being the Blades’ first season back in the top flight. 

Newcastle’s huge fan base clearly concerns officers, with the possible Saudi takeover at St James Park heightening the air of expectation.

Liverpool need just two more wins to capture the Premier League and it could come as early as the opening weekend, if Manchester City lose to Arsenal and they beat Everton. 

The likes of Leeds and West Brom in the Championship could also be asked to play at neutral venues as both are edging towards promotion. 

Man United v Sheffield United could be a consequence of the two cities' relative proximity

Man United v Sheffield United could be a consequence of the two cities’ relative proximity

Manchester City's home match against Liverpool could be another switched to a neutral venue

Manchester City’s home match against Liverpool could be another switched to a neutral venue

A plan is now in place for the Premier League season to be concluded by July 25, with 92 games to be held in 39 days.

Premier League chief Richard Masters said in a statement on Thursday: He said: ‘We have provisionally agreed to resume the Premier League on Wednesday, June 17. 

‘But this date cannot be confirmed until we have met all the safety requirements needed, as the health and welfare of all participants and supporters is our priority.

‘Sadly, matches will have to take place without fans in stadiums, so we are pleased to have come up with a positive solution for supporters to be able to watch all the remaining 92 matches. 

‘The Premier League and our clubs are proud to have incredibly passionate and loyal supporters. 

‘It is important to ensure as many people as possible can watch the matches at home.’ 


Ex-Premier League star Lee Hendrie opens up suicide attempts in emotional exchange with Paul Merson


Former England international Lee Hendrie has opened up on his multiple suicide attempts after going bankrupt and his memory of waking up on a life-support machine. 

In an emotional sit-down with Paul Merson and Vinnie Jones, the three former professional footballers, who have all battled against depression or addiction, laid bare their struggles in episode two of ITV show Harry’s Heroes. 

Hendrie, 43, who represented Aston Villa at the peak of his career and earned around £30,000-a-week, described to Merson and Jones how he tried to kill himself after his financial woes escalated to the point where his mum’s house was repossessed. 

Lee Hendrie laid bare his struggles as he opened up on trying to kill himself multiple times

Speaking to Paul Merson in episode two of Harry's Heroes on ITV, Hendrie explained how he spiralled and he still remembers waking up on a life-support machine after an attempt

Speaking to Paul Merson in episode two of Harry’s Heroes on ITV, Hendrie explained how he spiralled and he still remembers waking up on a life-support machine after an attempt

He played for Aston Villa at the peak of his career and earned in the region of £30,000-a-week at his highest

Hendrie secured one cap for the England national team in his career

He played for Aston Villa in the peak of his career (left) and also represented England (right)

The 43-year-old explained the root of his struggles as he revealed he still takes anti-depressants to this day.  

‘I fell deep down into depression really,’ Hendrie explained. ‘I ended up going bankrupt, my house got repossessed, they repossessed my mum’s house and that just destroyed me. 

‘That was it then, I got up one day, got p***ed and tried to kill myself. I woke up on a life-support machine, my body had shut down. Then I tried to do it again. 

‘I just couldn’t grasp what was going on. Still now, every single day I struggle, I still take anti-depressants. I didn’t even want to talk about it.’

Recounting one such attempt in his car, Hendrie is reduced to tears when telling the story

Recounting one such attempt in his car, Hendrie is reduced to tears when telling the story

He revealed he takes anti-depressants to this day as he sometimes 'struggles to get out of bed'

He revealed he takes anti-depressants to this day as he sometimes ‘struggles to get out of bed’

The ITV show tracks a team of former England internationals - managed by Harry Redknapp (centre) - including (left to right) Rob Lee, Lee Sharpe, Ray Parlour, Hendrie, Mark Wright, Matt Le Tissier, Merson and Mark Chamberlain

The ITV show tracks a team of former England internationals – managed by Harry Redknapp (centre) – including (left to right) Rob Lee, Lee Sharpe, Ray Parlour, Hendrie, Mark Wright, Matt Le Tissier, Merson and Mark Chamberlain

In an interview with the Guardian, Hendrie detailed that he has tried to commit suicide ‘five or six times’ and earlier in episode two, he is reduced to tears as he recounts one such attempt.  

Hendrie, who has five children, explained how he purchased ‘a load of tablets’ and pulled over in his car.   

‘I struggle at times to even get out of bed and face the world at times,’ he said. 

‘I remember just pulling up at a chemist, going in once and then I went to a shop and just bought a load of tablets. I just parked up and took all the tablets. It was really selfish of me to do that. I’ve got five children and to think I was going to leave all that behind. I just felt like I had let everyone down really.’ 

Hendrie was declared bankrupt by HM Revenue and Customs in 2012, while playing for non-league Kidderminster Harriers.

He had built up a property portfolio worth £10million but it all came to a head in 2010. 

Hendrie used money earned from football to build up his property portfolio to around £10m

Hendrie used money earned from football to build up his property portfolio to around £10m

The fluctuation of the housing market saw Hendrie’s debts build up and the bankruptcy petition was filed with debts of £193,808.73 in 2012. Homes and other luxury items needed to be repossessed to cover the costs. 

Both Merson and Jones were left stunned at Hendrie’s admission that he suffers with depression and they tried to shed positivity on the fact he survived and can ‘draw a line’ under that dark time in his life.  

Harry’s Heroes: Euro Having A Laugh tracks a team of former England internationals, including David Seaman, Merson, Matt Le Tissier, Rob Lee, Ray Parlour, Lee Sharpe, Mark Chamberlain, Mark Wright, Razor Ruddock and Hendrie, managed by former Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp and his assistant John Barnes. 

The show is exploring a number of different issues that the retired players faced in – or after – their playing careers.  

In the first series of Harry’s Heroes, Merson captured the hearts of viewers after breaking down in the back of a taxi while revealing the crippling effects of gambling on his life, comparing it to a ‘crack addiction’.  

Merson was forthcoming about his many stints in and out of Alcoholics Anonymous, after notoriously losing £7million on alcohol, drugs and gambling in the 1990s.

Merson, who played for clubs including Arsenal, Aston Villa and Portsmouth, told producers on the ITV documentary he was ‘struggling badly’ with life, adding: ‘Life’s fallen apart – gambling.

Neil Ruddock (third from left) threatened to beat up Merson (second from left) after the pair clashed over his drinking habits. Former England international Mark Wright, Ruddock's wife Leah Newman, David Seaman and his wife Frankie Poultney (left-right) watched on

Neil Ruddock (third from left) threatened to beat up Merson (second from left) after the pair clashed over his drinking habits. Former England international Mark Wright, Ruddock’s wife Leah Newman, David Seaman and his wife Frankie Poultney (left-right) watched on

‘I’ve just completely lost control, I’ve completely, again. I’m digging a hole – I can’t get out of it. It’s the worst addiction in the world.’

In last week’s episode notorious football hardman Neil Ruddock threatened to beat up Merson during a heated argument over the former Tottenham and Liverpool defender’s drinking.

Merson delivered a stark warning to an infuriated Ruddock in a TV show, saying that the 52-year-old’s boozing is killing him.

The pair clashed after Merson took exception to Ruddock downing pints and shots in the pub during filming. 

Ruddock had yelled: ‘Don’t shout at me or I’ll get the hump with you. I’ll throw you out the f*****g door. This gives me the hump. F*** off.’ 

Last year the side overcame a Germany Legends team after building up their fitness by increasing their exercise regimes and improving their diets.

This time around Redknapp’s outfit, who lost almost eight stone between them in 2019, embark on a tour of Europe, taking on sides in France and Italy before the rematch against Germany.

Merson opened up on his alcohol and gambling addiction and credited the show for its help

Merson opened up on his alcohol and gambling addiction and credited the show for its help

Episode two of Harry’s Heroes airs tonight on ITV at 9pm  

If you have been affected by this story, call The Samaritans at any time, from any phone for FREE, on 116 123, or email them at [email protected]  

Gary Neville says clubs at the bottom of the Premier League will get ‘BULLIED’


‘It’s getting quite dirty behind the scenes’: Gary Neville says clubs at the bottom of the Premier League will get ‘BULLIED’ into playing again with ‘unsavoury, unkind’ football ignoring public call for unity

  • Gary Neville says struggling Premier League clubs will be ‘bullied’ into playing
  • Those lower down the table are against the idea of playing at neutral venues
  • Some want relegation to be scrapped before they’ll consider returning to action
  • Neville believes Premier League talks are ‘getting quite dirty behind the scenes’ 

Gary Neville believes talks around the Premier League resuming have become ‘dirty behind the scenes’ and those lower down the table will get ‘bullied into playing again’ as clubs jostle to try and get the season completed. 

The three teams occupying the Premier League’s bottom three places have been warned that relegation could be imposed on them if they continue to obstruct plans to resume the season next month at neutral venues. 

Clubs are due to meet to discuss Project Restart on Monday and those desperate to restart the season could demand a vote to determine the relegation issue if Norwich, Aston Villa and Bournemouth don’t back plans to resume.  

Gary Neville says clubs at the bottom of the Premier League will get ‘bullied’ into resuming

Aston Villa are currently in the bottom three after a disappointing return to the top flight

Norwich are rock-bottom of the Premier League as it stands

Aston Villa, Norwich and Bournemouth sit in the bottom three and could be relegated by way of a vote if they continue to obstruct plans to resume the season next month at neutral venues

Aston Villa chief executive Christian Purslow and his opposite number at Brighton, Paul Barber, have both spoken publicly on their clubs’ wishes for matches not to be played at neutral venues. 

The current bottom three and Brighton had not been the most vocal in objecting though with West Ham and Watford also among the clubs against the current proposals.  

But it is the first major sign of in-fighting within the top flight as clubs battle to save themselves from further financial losses brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. 

And, speaking on Thursday’s The Football Show on Sky Sports, Neville insisted the bickering was becoming ‘unsavoury’ and warned some clubs may be ‘bullied’ into playing again.

The Manchester United legend said: ‘There is no doubt we have got a divided Premier League in terms of what the clubs want. The message from day one of this pandemic is a global approach, unity, be kind.

Teams around the relegation zone are against the idea of playing matches at neutral venues

‘Football is not a kind place at this moment in time, it is self interest and it is getting quite dirty behind the scenes, from what it sounds like.

‘What about health? It is unsavoury. I don’t believe it is a fair approach to avoid relegation. If we are playing football matches then there has to be something on it or there is no point turning up.

‘Promotion and relegation is what drives our game and makes it as competitive as it is. I am not for removing it. Look at Germany and how they dealt with the pandemic, it is head and shoulders above this country so it’s not a fair comparison.

‘Clubs at the bottom were always going to get bullied into playing if there was a way to deliver it safely.’

Speaking on the issue of giving up home advantage, Purslow told talkSPORT on Wednesday: ‘Personally I am against it. We are a club that prides itself on home form.

Brighton chief executive Paul Barber will not change his mind about playing in neutral grounds

Brighton chief executive Paul Barber will not change his mind about playing in neutral grounds

Aston Villa's Christian Purslow says his club 'pride themselves' on their home form this season

Aston Villa’s Christian Purslow says his club ‘pride themselves’ on their home form this season

‘Two-thirds of our wins this season came at home. We have six left. Giving up that advantage is a massive decision and I certainly wouldn’t agree to it unless the circumstances are right. My duty is to my club.’

Barber said on Monday: ‘Neutral venues just simply changes the nature of the competition and what we would consider to be unfair and not the right way to go.’

There are no plans for a formal vote at next Monday’s meeting, but the clubs will be asked to approve some elements of the Project Restart plan. 

The Premier League require 14 clubs to vote in favour to pass a motion and the support of the bottom three would probably be enough to swing the balance in favour of Project Restart. 

Any plans for the season to get back underway will require the backing of the Premier League Doctors’ Group.

Neville admitted having doctors on the players’ side is a huge boost because they will not take risks and will demand a comprehensive plan of how football can return safely. 

Jamie Redknapp insisted Premier League players will be confident they can talk to their doctor

Jamie Redknapp insisted Premier League players will be confident they can talk to their doctor

He added: ‘Doctors are conservative in their approach, they don’t wan’t to take risks.

‘They will look at Germany and there is no doubt the Premier League are going to follow suit and go for this and the medical professionals want some level of comfort.

‘Who you trust in your football club, the doctor is number one. Players will go to the doctor with every single problem they have got.

‘They will be getting calls left right and centre asking questions on how things are going to operate and they will be putting those forward to the Premier League to answer.’

Jamie Redknapp added: ‘Doctors always have the best interest, physios can be influenced by managers. 

‘Players think they have that trust with the doctor. They will feel secure that they can speak to the doctors.’ 

Gary Neville says clubs at the bottom of the Premier League will get ‘BULLIED’


‘It’s getting quite dirty behind the scenes’: Gary Neville says clubs at the bottom of the Premier League will get ‘BULLIED’ into playing again with ‘unsavoury, unkind’ football ignoring public call for unity

  • Gary Neville says struggling Premier League clubs will be ‘bullied’ into playing
  • Those lower down the table are against the idea of playing at neutral venues
  • Some want relegation to be scrapped before they’ll consider returning to action
  • Neville believes Premier League talks are ‘getting quite dirty behind the scenes’ 

Gary Neville believes talks around the Premier League resuming have become ‘dirty behind the scenes’ and those lower down the table will get ‘bullied into playing again’ as clubs jostle to try and get the season completed. 

The three teams occupying the Premier League’s bottom three places have been warned that relegation could be imposed on them if they continue to obstruct plans to resume the season next month at neutral venues. 

Clubs are due to meet to discuss Project Restart on Monday and those desperate to restart the season could demand a vote to determine the relegation issue if Norwich, Aston Villa and Bournemouth don’t back plans to resume.  

Gary Neville says clubs at the bottom of the Premier League will get ‘bullied’ into resuming

Aston Villa are currently in the bottom three after a disappointing return to the top flight

Norwich are rock-bottom of the Premier League as it stands

Aston Villa, Norwich and Bournemouth sit in the bottom three and could be relegated by way of a vote if they continue to obstruct plans to resume the season next month at neutral venues

Aston Villa chief executive Christian Purslow and his opposite number at Brighton, Paul Barber, have both spoken publicly on their clubs’ wishes for matches not to be played at neutral venues. 

The current bottom three and Brighton had not been the most vocal in objecting though with West Ham and Watford also among the clubs against the current proposals.  

But it is the first major sign of in-fighting within the top flight as clubs battle to save themselves from further financial losses brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. 

And, speaking on Thursday’s The Football Show on Sky Sports, Neville insisted the bickering was becoming ‘unsavoury’ and warned some clubs may be ‘bullied’ into playing again.

The Manchester United legend said: ‘There is no doubt we have got a divided Premier League in terms of what the clubs want. The message from day one of this pandemic is a global approach, unity, be kind.

Teams around the relegation zone are against the idea of playing matches at neutral venues

‘Football is not a kind place at this moment in time, it is self interest and it is getting quite dirty behind the scenes, from what it sounds like.

‘What about health? It is unsavoury. I don’t believe it is a fair approach to avoid relegation. If we are playing football matches then there has to be something on it or there is no point turning up.

‘Promotion and relegation is what drives our game and makes it as competitive as it is. I am not for removing it. Look at Germany and how they dealt with the pandemic, it is head and shoulders above this country so it’s not a fair comparison.

‘Clubs at the bottom were always going to get bullied into playing if there was a way to deliver it safely.’

Speaking on the issue of giving up home advantage, Purslow told talkSPORT on Wednesday: ‘Personally I am against it. We are a club that prides itself on home form.

Brighton chief executive Paul Barber will not change his mind about playing in neutral grounds

Brighton chief executive Paul Barber will not change his mind about playing in neutral grounds

Aston Villa's Christian Purslow says his club 'pride themselves' on their home form this season

Aston Villa’s Christian Purslow says his club ‘pride themselves’ on their home form this season

‘Two-thirds of our wins this season came at home. We have six left. Giving up that advantage is a massive decision and I certainly wouldn’t agree to it unless the circumstances are right. My duty is to my club.’

Barber said on Monday: ‘Neutral venues just simply changes the nature of the competition and what we would consider to be unfair and not the right way to go.’

There are no plans for a formal vote at next Monday’s meeting, but the clubs will be asked to approve some elements of the Project Restart plan. 

The Premier League require 14 clubs to vote in favour to pass a motion and the support of the bottom three would probably be enough to swing the balance in favour of Project Restart. 

Any plans for the season to get back underway will require the backing of the Premier League Doctors’ Group.

Neville admitted having doctors on the players’ side is a huge boost because they will not take risks and will demand a comprehensive plan of how football can return safely. 

Jamie Redknapp insisted Premier League players will be confident they can talk to their doctor

Jamie Redknapp insisted Premier League players will be confident they can talk to their doctor

He added: ‘Doctors are conservative in their approach, they don’t wan’t to take risks.

‘They will look at Germany and there is no doubt the Premier League are going to follow suit and go for this and the medical professionals want some level of comfort.

‘Who you trust in your football club, the doctor is number one. Players will go to the doctor with every single problem they have got.

‘They will be getting calls left right and centre asking questions on how things are going to operate and they will be putting those forward to the Premier League to answer.’

Jamie Redknapp added: ‘Doctors always have the best interest, physios can be influenced by managers. 

‘Players think they have that trust with the doctor. They will feel secure that they can speak to the doctors.’ 

Premier League plea for unity amid claims strugglers are trying to block Project Restart


The Premier League will make a desperate plea for unity this week amid claims that the bottom six clubs are sabotaging plans to resume the season.

In another sign of the destructive conflict gripping the top flight, Sportsmail can reveal that some of the Big Six are lobbying for guarantees that promotion and relegation will still be implemented, even if the season is curtailed.

The dramatic move following last Friday’s shareholders’ meeting represents an attempt by the biggest clubs to persuade those in the bottom three to vote for playing on, as it would be their only hope of avoiding relegation.

The Premier League’s top six are trying to win over owners including West Ham’s Karren Brady

The division's biggest clubs are trying to convince owners of each of the bottom three clubs - such as Delia Smith and Michael Wynn-Jones at Norwich - to fulfil their remaining fixtures

The division’s biggest clubs are trying to convince owners of each of the bottom three clubs – such as Delia Smith and Michael Wynn-Jones at Norwich – to fulfil their remaining fixtures

The split over the merits of Project Restart is largely based on where clubs stand in the table, with an executive at one club telling Sportsmail on Sunday that the objections raised by clubs near the bottom were a deliberate act of sabotage.

The Premier League have attempted to maintain a show of solidarity throughout the increasingly acrimonious debate that has raged since the season was suspended on March 13. But that facade finally cracked over the weekend. 

Brighton chief executive Paul Barber opposed publicly the Premier League’s plan to complete the campaign using 10 neutral venues by saying that such a move would damage the integrity of the competition, while Crystal Palace chairman Steve Parish responded in the Sunday Times with a strong expression of the social and economic case for football’s return.

Brighton CEO Paul Barber has opposed the plan to play remaining matches at neutral grounds

Brighton CEO Paul Barber has opposed the plan to play remaining matches at neutral grounds

Such divergent opinions appear to be diplomatically expressed versions of the robust debate that took place last Friday and the more heated discussions that are occurring in private.

‘They are threatening to destroy football just to avoid the risk of relegation,’ is how one executive put it. ‘Their thinking is so short-sighted.’

In another indication of the febrile atmosphere, one source present at the meeting told Sportsmail that 13 clubs were in favour of Project Restart, six opposed and one was undecided. Others are claiming there are at least eight rebel clubs, which would be enough to veto the plan.

Christian Purslow's Aston Villa are another club at risk of being relegated if matches are played

Christian Purslow’s Aston Villa are another club at risk of being relegated if matches are played

Such are the tensions that some clubs have been accused of using their medical staff to stoke fear among players about the health risks of returning to action.

The Premier League will need 14 votes in favour for matches to resume, with June 12 the favoured restart date, but that ballot is unlikely to take place at a meeting on Friday, which has been scheduled to follow publication of the Government’s lockdown exit strategy the previous evening.

Instead, the Premier League’s plan is to continue to pursue a step-by-step approach based on increasing the intensity of training from individual, through small groups to full contact, in the hope that the spread of Covid-19 has slowed significantly by the time a decision is required at the end of the month.

The Premier League will need 14 votes in a favour of Project Restart for 2019-20 to resume; an outcome which could have major repercussions for Watford and owner Giampaolo Pozzo (C)

The Premier League will need 14 votes in a favour of Project Restart for 2019-20 to resume; an outcome which could have major repercussions for Watford and owner Giampaolo Pozzo (C)

While the finer details on neutral venues, broadcasting, promotion and relegation — and a Plan B if the season is suspended for a second time — still need to be resolved, the Premier League are hoping to secure an agreement to return in principle.

Chief executive Richard Masters is expected to spell out the need for unity, and to urge clubs to put self-interest and squabbling aside. While there is sympathy regarding the integrity issues raised by Barber and others, the Premier League want clubs to commit to doing everything they can to resume in order to prevent financial collapse.

Most clubs have accepted that next season’s season-ticket money and sponsorship income will be diminished due to the strong likelihood that social distancing measures will be maintained, and the loss of the £762million outstanding on the television contract would put many in jeopardy.

The clubs will also be urged to emphasise the Premier League’s importance to the country as a whole, and its potential role in kick-starting the economic recovery from the shutdown and improving the nation’s health. 

Some of the finer details still need to be resolved, but the Premier League are hoping Bournemouth chairman Jeff Mostyn will be among those to agree to return in principle

Some of the finer details still need to be resolved, but the Premier League are hoping Bournemouth chairman Jeff Mostyn will be among those to agree to return in principle

A report from accountancy firm Ernst & Young published last year stated that top-flight clubs paid £3.3billion in tax during the 2016-17 season and employed 12,000 people directly, as well as supporting almost 100,000 full-time jobs in other companies, many of which would be lost without Premier League football.

In addition, the Premier League and clubs support numerous community and grassroots projects, some of which would be scrapped as part of cost-cutting measures.

The Premier League’s Project Restart is strongly supported by the FA and the EFL, who are eager for matches to resume as soon as possible in the hope that it will enable their own competitions to follow.

Other sports are watching with interest, particularly cricket and rugby, who also have valuable television deals which finance their entire structure.

The chief executive of another sport told Sportsmail: ‘We are a million miles behind the Premier League in terms of resources, testing capacity and medical provision. If they are unable to resume this summer, then we have no chance.’

Jack Grealish raises over £54,000 for NHS workers after auctioning off Second City derby shirt


Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish raises over £55,000 for NHS workers after auctioning off shirt he wore when assaulted by a Birmingham fan in last season’s derby – as he makes up for attending lockdown party in March

  • Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish has raised over £55,000 for the NHS workers
  • Grealish raffled off the shirt he wore when he was attacked by a Birmingham fan
  • He would go on to score the winning goal in the controversial Second City derby
  • The funds raised will go towards NHS Charities Together to help fight Covid-19

Jack Grealish has raised over £55,000 for the NHS after raffling off his match-worn shirt from Aston Villa’s controversial clash with rivals Birmingham last season.

The Villa captain struck the only goal in the Second City derby last March – moments after he was attacked on the pitch by a Birmingham fan at St Andrew’s – in one of the most notorious games of the 2018-19 Championship campaign, which Villa ended with promotion through the play-offs.

A man was subsequently jailed for 14 weeks for the attack on Grealish in that match, with the Villa captain responding to the incident by sealing a famous victory for this team.

Jack Grealish has raised over £55,000 for the NHS after raffling off one of his shirts

The Aston Villa captain auctioned off the shirt he wore in the derby win over rivals Birmingham

Grealish raised over £55,000 after thousands of fans paid £10 for the chance to win the shirt

The Aston Villa captain auctioned off the shirt he wore in the derby win over rivals Birmingham

Grealish has auctioned off the famous No 10 shirt with all proceeds going to NHS Charities Together following the outbreak of the coronavirus.

Over 3,600 fans paid £10 for the chance to win the shirt before Grealish selected the winner on Sunday evening.

He said on his JustGiving page: ‘I want to thank every single person that entered the raffle! Together we have managed to raise over £55,000! 

‘I will be be leaving the page open and you are welcome to continue to donate. Once again thank you to everyone who entered the raffle, your donations are going to help our NHS staff, volunteers and patients impacted by COVID-19.’

Grealish wore the shirt when he scored the winner against Birmingham in 2019

Grealish wore the shirt when he scored the winner against Birmingham in 2019

Grealish was attacked by a Birmingham fan during the game, moments before he scored

Grealish was attacked by a Birmingham fan during the game, moments before he scored

Over 3,600 fans paid £10 for the chance to win the shirt before Grealish selected the winner

Over 3,600 fans paid £10 for the chance to win the shirt before Grealish selected the winner

The goodwill gesture comes weeks after Grealish broke government lockdown rules to attend a late-night party at the flat of former team-mate Ross McCormack.

Grealish was pictured after leaving a penthouse apartment, where he crashed his £70,000 Range Rover and damaged two parked cars, and he has since issued a apology on social media. 

Last weekend, Villa announced that their squad had agreed to a 25 per cent wage deferral for four months, with football on hold since last month due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The club are not making use of the government-led furlough scheme, with all non-playing staff continuing to be paid in full. 

The ALTERNATIVE Premier League table: Manchester United miss out, Arsenal fall to 12th


As doubts grow about the viability of playing out the rest of the Premier League season, a number of methods have been mooted to complete the campaign.

There are those who would take the table at the halfway stage – when everybody had played each other once – and simply double the points totals.

Others think the fairest method would be to go on a points per game basis to work out how the campaign should conclude.

There are some who think it is best to just take the table as it stands. 

Sportsmail has used a new methodology to put together a finished Premier League table

It would not be a good outcome for Manchester United as they seek a Champions League place

It would not be a good outcome for Manchester United as they seek a Champions League place

On Thursday morning, French newspaper L’Equipe came up with their own method of working out the Ligue 1 table.

It uses all of the matches – and therefore data – available, but does away with the ‘injustice’ of how the fixture list has fallen for a given team. 

A single result against a team stands. But playing a club twice leads to different outcomes, as explained in the methodology. 

Your points taken from results against clubs you have played twice are halved.

A pair of wins results in three points, a win and a draw in two and a win and a loss in 1.5 points. Similarly, two draws equals a point, a draw and a loss is worth 0.5 and, unsurprisingly, two defeats is worth nothing.

As L’Equipe put it, it has the advantage of giving the same weight to results obtained for a team against each of the 19 opponents they have played.

While reports now suggest PSG will be crowned champions by using the fixed table, the alternative was interesting. 

Applying it to the Premier League was a combined effort between Sportsmail and Opta’s data wizards. And while a lot of the Premier League has come out similarly, there have been some surprising final positions.

For example, Arsenal would slide down the table. While they have had a difficult campaign, no one would expect them to finish in the bottom half. 

Premier League leaders Liverpool would be happy with the outcome of Sportsmail's maths

Premier League leaders Liverpool would be happy with the outcome of Sportsmail’s maths

How Sportsmail’s Premier League table would look using L’Equipe’s methodology, based on a 19-game total – the points totals have been doubled to reflect a typical Premier League season

THE METHODOLOGY 

Two wins v same opponent: 3 points

One win, one draw v same opponent: 2 points

One win, one loss v same opponent: 1.5 points

Two draws v same opponent: 1 point 

One draw, one loss v same opponent: 0.5 points

Two defeats v same opponent: 0 points 

If you’ve only played one game v an opponent, that result stands.

But the L’Equipe method has brought about that outcome. They drop from ninth to 12th below Crystal Palace, Burnley and Newcastle, for their worst finish since 1994-95.

Palace finish ninth, jumping up two places, and there’s a boost for Newcastle too.

Meanwhile, Manchester United would miss out on a place in the Champions League again. They would be stuck in the same place they are in the Premier League, fifth behind Chelsea.

The top four would be the same as it currently is, although the gap between City and Leicester would tighten to just two points.

And Liverpool would break the Premier League record for points collected in a single season. They would have 109, nine more than City achieved in 2017-18.

Leicester would receive the Champions League place that their campaign has deserved

Leicester would receive the Champions League place that their campaign has deserved

There would be frustration for Spurs and Jose Mourinho as they would not qualify for Europe

There would be frustration for Spurs and Jose Mourinho as they would not qualify for Europe

There would also be no European football for Spurs next season – just two campaigns after reaching the Champions League final – as they would finish eighth.

Meanwhile, Wolves and Sheffield United could look forward to European tours, depending on what is decided about the FA Cup. 

While the entire top eight would remain in the same positions according to this method, there would be huge differences at the bottom.

It would lead to a celebration for Bournemouth, who would climb out of the relegation zone and secure another season of Premier League football.

Despite being bumped up, there would be no second season in the Premier League for Aston Villa, who would finish 18th.

The real blow, though, would be dealt to Watford. They have undergone a mini-revival under the stewardship of Nigel Pearson.

Bournemouth would have reason to celebrate as they would miss out on relegation

Bournemouth would have reason to celebrate as they would miss out on relegation

Yet their results would see them collect just 32 points all season. That would mean they would slide into the relegation zone and finish 19th.

Unsurprisingly, current basement boys Norwich would not have a reprieve and would still be bottom of the league.

There would also be disappointing outcomes for Everton – dropping two places – and Brighton – falling one – while West Ham and Southampton would each go up one spot. 

PS: For those wondering about the Championship – West Brom would win the league on 89 points while Leeds would go up in second on 85. Fulham on 79, Nottingham Forest on 77, Brentford on 76, and Preston on 74 would make up the play-off places.

But Watford, who have been on a good run, would drop into the relegation zone and go down

But Watford, who have been on a good run, would drop into the relegation zone and go down

Basement boys Norwich City would still be bottom of the Premier League table

Basement boys Norwich City would still be bottom of the Premier League table

Stan Collymore slammed by fans after sticking up for Jack Grealish antics during coronavirus crisis


Fans savage Stan Collymore after he STICKS UP for Jack Grealish after his partying during the lockdown… saying he would have done the same at his age (and don’t we know it!)

Former Aston Villa striker Stan Collymore has slammed angry fans on Twitter after they criticised him for appearing to stick up for Jack Grealish over his partying during the coronavirus lockdown.

Grealish, the 24-year-old midfielder, took to social media on Monday evening to say sorry for his behaviour after pictures of him in a Birmingham suburb emerged online.

Grealish attended a party at the penthouse flat of his former Villa team-mate Ross McCormack on Saturday and did not leave until the early hours of Sunday morning.

Former Aston Villa striker Stan Collymore has slammed angry fans on Twitter after they criticised him for appearing to stick up for Jack Grealish for partying during the lockdown

Jack Grealish apologised for partying in a video posted to his social media accounts on Monday

He did not mention a Range Rover crash that damaged two cars

The 24-year-old midfielder took to social media on Monday to say sorry for his behaviour 

It has also been alleged that a £70,000 white Range Rover owned by Grealish was involved in a crash with two parked cars in the area where he was pictured.

In response to Grealish’s apology on Twitter, Collymore wrote ‘Good lad’ followed by a heart emoji.

Fans hit out at Collymore for appearing to stick up for Grealish but the ex-forward clarified what he meant.

One Twitter user wrote: ‘Don’t know what’s more embarrassing your comment or the actual video, have a f***ing word with yourself Collymore!’ 

While another fan wrote: ‘Ahhh yes. Good lad for breaking government rules and risking people’s lives. Stay Classy Stan.’ 

‘I sent him a message earlier, so he knows what I think for what it’s worth,’ Collymore said.

‘”Good lad” is acknowledgement of doing the right thing after doing something stupid and reckless, so anyone reading anything else into it can f*** right off. Jack knows the consequences. 

‘Like I’ve said, you don’t know what I’ve said to him personally nor what I’ve written publicly about him (in a column later).

In response to Grealish's apology, Collymore wrote 'Good lad' followed by a heart emoji

In response to Grealish’s apology, Collymore wrote ‘Good lad’ followed by a heart emoji

Fans hit out at Collymore on social media for appearing to stick up for the midfielder

Fans hit out at Collymore on social media for appearing to stick up for the midfielder

 

‘So until you know either, you’re commenting on two words that you and others see as an endorsement of his behaviour. It most certainly isn’t.’

Collymore did sympathise with Grealish saying that he understood his desire to party during the unexpected break in the season but also denounced Grealish’s actions. 

‘Would I have gone to the party aged 24? More than likely,’ Collymore told The Mirror.

The white Range Rover is pictured after the crash in the Dickens Heath area of Solihull

The white Range Rover is pictured after the crash in the Dickens Heath area of Solihull 

Grealish is pictured walking, said to be close to the scene of a Range Rover crash on Sunday morning in a Birmingham suburb

Grealish wore a sky-blue hoodie, as seen in images circulating on social media after the crash

Grealish is pictured walking away, near the scene of a Range Rover crash on Sunday morning

An image of a man resembling Grealish, wearing odd footwear, was circulated on social media

An image of a man resembling Grealish, wearing odd footwear, was circulated on social media

STAN COLLYMORE’S RAP SHEET 

1998: During his time with Aston Villa he assaulted then girlfriend Ulrika Jonsson 

2004: Caught at a dogging site near his home three years after retiring from football

‘So while I can only condemn what he has done, I’m not going to throw Grealish completely under the bus.

‘Instead, I’ll tell him to take whatever punishment is coming on the chin and accept the fact he has stepped well out of line.’ 

Piers Morgan branded Grealish a ‘selfish, reckless clown’ after he apologised for partying with friends during the coronavirus lockdown.