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Barber: We have to defend our position first and foremost

Paul Barber says it is duty to defend Albion’s position first and foremost when Premier League clubs meet on Monday to discuss re-starting the season.

By Bruce Talbot • 10 May 2020

Among the items to be discussed in the latest catch-up about Project Restart is the plan to play the remaining matches at neutral venues if it is safe to do so, a proposal Albion oppose because it would ruin the sporting integrity of the competition.

He said, “I’ve heard several times in the last week people talking about the greater good and doing what’s right for the game as a whole and I accept that.

“But I have to put a hierarchy in place: my club; the league that I represent; and the game as a whole.

“And if I can do right by my club and support the league and ultimately do right by the game as a whole, then that’s great, but I have to put the interests of my club and the hundreds of staff that work for our club first.

“In our first season we were in the Premier League, we contributed over £200 million to the local economy. We’ve helped create nearly 2,000 jobs, directly and indirectly, thanks to our promotion to the Premier League.

“I can’t support something that is going to put all of that economic value, people’s livelihoods, mortgage payments, school fees, food on the table for families, at stake for voting for something that I don’t think is fair.

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Barber & Ashworth press conference

“I wouldn’t expect any chief executive of any club to do anything other than what I’m doing, which is defend their club’s position first and foremost.

“But that doesn’t mean to say I don’t recognise we’ve got a responsibility to be collegiate within our league and that we haven’t got a responsibility to do what we can to support the lower levels of football.

“We’re doing things behind the scenes – not financial - to support some of the lower-level clubs in and around us by giving them advice and ideas on how they can save money or create revenue.

“We’re very cognisant of our responsibilities to the wider game and I understand totally why people would think Premier League clubs should be doing even more.

“But, in the first instance, we have got to look after ourselves and, as callous and as harsh as that may seem, that is my primary responsibility. After that, clearly, supporting the league and supporting the wider game become very important too.”

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