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Premier League CEO in warning to Man United and Man City over rest of season

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Premier League CEO Richard Masters has admitted that this season could still be curtailed due to the coronavirus.

Speaking to the House of Commons' Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, Masters was asked about whether the football season was still at risk due to the coronavirus.

Pointing to the current situation in Leicester, Masters said that the Premier League is in a position to handle localised lockdowns, but may not be able to cope with another national one.

Manchester United are due to play at Leicester's King Power Stadium on the last weekend of July.

Masters admitted it could well mean that, if there is another spike in the virus, the season is not completed.

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"There's always that possibility, yes," he said.

"We're dependent on the course of the virus and the government's decisions in response to that.

"Obviously we're cautiously optimistic and what's happened in Leicester overnight is something we're responding to now.

"We've been planning for quite a long period of time to adapt to a neutral venues model if necessary for a variety of different reasons.

"I think we can clearly cope with the situation in Leicester.

"If it means the club can't play its home games for the foreseeable future or just this weekend, we can adapt to that.

"But if that were to happen in multiple areas or the course of the virus creates other risks then obviously there's that risk that we can't complete the season.

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"We've got to get through to the end of July, complete our 380 games and look cautiously optimistic to season 20/21 - set a start date, work with the other football bodies to create a calendar which works for all, then keep our fingers crossed that we can get fans back into the stadium and recover the economy.

"That's the plan but, as you know, that's all dependent on the course of the virus.

"We've shown our flexibility to that and have to operate within government guidelines."

Any early finish to the campaign would likely be bad news for Manchester United.

The Reds are currently sat sixth, five points off fourth place with seven matches to go.

Yet any curtailment to the season would likely mean the league table is sorted via points per game - and that would currently see United miss out on top-four qualification for the Champions League, although that is dependent on Manchester City's appeal over their European ban.

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Despite the prospect of curtailment, Masters also said there was no chance of Liverpool's title being stripped away from them.

He said: "The Premier League clubs decided to deal with the issue of curtailment, what would have happened if the season wasn't completed, and we left that to a discussion which would happen at a point if that was going to actually occur.

"We are optimistic we can finish the season, we'll have to come to some sort of agreement about what model might be used going forward.

"What we've all learnt in terms of our risk register and forward planning is that we need to deal with these sorts of issues inside our rulebook.

"Liverpool are now champions, so we don't have to worry about that."




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