For several days ClaretandHugh has been pleading the case against neutral grounds and yesterday quoted former West Yorkshire top cop Owen West as being opposed to the idea.
It was first presented almost as a casual remark by DCC Mark Roberts claiming that the collection of people around home grounds could present challenges to the police.
But West argued that was demonising supporters who had observed every step of the lock down, contributed to food banks and generally demonstrated exemplary behaviour in very trying circumstances.
The Premier League is of course pushing hard for neutral grounds but Claret and Hugh has learned overnight that it is not so much they – as the Government – who are claimed to have made it the over-riding priority if the season is to be completed.
Revealing the news to us during a long e-mail conversation a highly placed Hammers source said: “Since the comment was first made that appears to be totally the government’s position now. They are insisting on that being the case.”
We were told by the same source some weeks ago that we could expect to see what he called “the blame game ” being played with chairmen not wanting to scupper a return to action via a vote so hoping the PL would make the decision.
And they in turn will be ready to explain this is a government stipulation thus ‘passing the buck’ again. However, it appears to be a collective issue as in the first place the government – as it has done with all other sports – asked the PL to give its plan for a return rather than impose its own.
That’s their job and the neutral grounds idea would have been within their recommendations to government and it is now a key scenario which will be challenged by chairmen ahead of a likely vote on Monday.
Should the PL not get a majority of 14 for it – as looks more than a remote possibility – there seems little chance of Operation Restart going anywhere.