Brighton and Hove Albion have threatened legal action over an 'entirely false' report suggesting that captain Lewis Dunk had urged chairman Tony Bloom to tone down his opposition to Project Restart.
The Seagulls were one of several teams to stress their preference not to complete the season at neutral venues, attracting claims that they only did so because they currently sit two points clear of the relegation zone and simply want to see the season voided.
That prompted a report from the Daily Mail which claimed that Dunk urged Bloom to relax his stance on football's return amid fears the club were being seen as a scapegoat, but Brighton took to their official website to insist that the report is completely fictitious.
"The article falsely suggests that players from the club led by Lewis Dunk made direct representations to the club’s chairman Tony Bloom concerning the club’s stance on the Premier League’s Project Restart plans," the statement explained. "The club can confirm that no such conversations have ever taken place.
"The club has written to the Mail on Sunday requesting that they remove the article from its website and print a correction in next week’s newspaper, and has referred the matter to its lawyers to consider further action.
"The club’s stance, entirely supported by our players, has been very clear and entirely consistent since the start of the pandemic: we wish to complete the season when it’s as safe as possible to do so, while ensuring the competition format remains as consistent and as fair as possible.
"In nine consecutive weekly media briefings, all conducted on the record, the club has remained entirely accessible, open, and transparent to all questions to support all media outlets throughout this very difficult period.
"It is therefore extremely disappointing that a story based on totally inaccurate information, seemingly from an off-the-record briefing from outside of our club, has been presented as fact without any effort whatsoever being made to contact the club for verification or comment."
Brighton joined the other 19 Premier League sides in unanimously voting to allow teams to return to training last week, while the majority of teams in the division stood alongside Brighton in opposing the neutral venue idea.