Burnley's Ben Mee says players can deal with neutral venues and quarantine

Ben Mee says players would spend time in quarantine if it meant the Premier League could resume
Ben Mee says players would spend time in quarantine if it means the Premier League could resume

Burnley captain Ben Mee believes footballers can "get over" playing at neutral venues if it means fans get a "boost" from the sport resuming play during the coronavirus pandemic.

Football in the UK remains suspended but countries including Germany and Bulgaria have now set return dates.

Premier League clubs will meet on Monday but some are against plans to use neutral venues.

"It's not ideal but these times, they call for different measures," said Mee.

"We can certainly get over that fact," the 30-year-old told told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"I think as players we can play football and it still works on the park or if it's in an unfamiliar stadium. Hopefully we can get these games televised and people can watch them and enjoy them."

'Why do we need neutral venues?'

The Premier League has been suspended since 13 March and League Managers Association chief executive Richard Bevan has said this season could be cancelled if clubs do not agree to play in neutral venues.

Monday's meeting will follow Prime Minister Boris Johnson's address to the nation on Sunday, where he is due to give an update on the country's current lockdown.

The neutral stadium proposal needs 14 out of the 20 clubs to vote in favour for it to be adopted.

Germany's Bundesliga will return on 16 May and clubs will use their own stadiums but play behind closed doors.

"If Germany can, why can't we?" said Brighton chief executive Paul Barber. "We've got some of the best stadiums in the world, some of the best-run football clubs in the world and one of the best leagues in the world.

"Why can't we make it happen in our country and finish the season the way it started?"

Barber said a group of clubs are being made to look like "bad guys" after reports emerged that the Premier League's bottom three - Norwich, Aston Villa and Bournemouth - could be relegated if they vote against the neutral venue plan.

"There are genuine concerns at all levels of the league about neutral venues so I think the way some people have painted it - as the bottom six versus the rest - is misguided and wrong," added Barber.

'We would go into quarantine' - Mee

The Premier League's plans - dubbed Project Restart - involve a return to action in June in order to complete the season by the end of July.

Club doctors are seeking their own assurances over player welfare and more than coronavirus 40,000 tests will be needed for players if the restart plan is to be executed.

Defender Mee, whose Burnley side are 10th in the Premier League, said players would be prepared to spend time in a quarantine environment if it meant games could go ahead.

"I think we'd be willing to do it," he added. "If it meant we could get back to playing in a safe and secure way and keep our family safe, for sure.

"Obviously, with all the testing that's going on, we don't want it to compromise anything that's going on with people that really need it; i.e. NHS staff or people like that. So we feel that we need some sort of testing to go back and to be safe and obviously not put our families at any sort of risk.

"I think everyone's sort of feeling similar with our group of players, that we want to get back.

"I think football is such an important part of our country, whether you like it or not, and people rely on it. And if we can give that positive boost to the country, then that would be fantastic."

'No green light for football yet'

All the Premier League clubs are committed to playing the 92 remaining fixtures in the season when it is safe to do so.

On Friday, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden warned the game is yet to get the "green light".

"If we can get a plan that works then I'd like us to be able to go ahead with it because I think it would be good for the nation, it would be good for football as a whole," Dowden told BBC Radio 4.

"I'm really hopeful we can get this up and running but public safety must come first so it's only if we're confident of that that we'll be able to proceed."

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