English Premier League returns after 100-day hiatus

Wednesday, Aston Villa welcomes Sheffield United, while Manchester City faces Arsenal. The last 92 matches in the league will be held behind closed doors.

However, a recent YouGov survey found that 48% of adults thought the Premier League was coming back too soon while the UK was temporarily out of the lockdown.

The reboot comes at a time when some areas, such as the north-west of England, have been identified as potential hotspots for the virus, with infection rates falling more slowly.

There were also concerns about the possibility for supporters to rally outside the stadiums, especially in the city of Liverpool where Jurgen Klopp’s team could win their first champion title in 30 years with victory over rival local Everton on Sunday if Arsenal defeats Manchester City.

There had been talk of hosting the match in a neutral location, but teams have since been allowed to play the game at Everton Goodison Park.

Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson initially opposed the idea, but recently declared support for city games.

The two rivals have joined forces to encourage fans to stay home, but Liverpool supporter and season ticket holder John Cooper said authorities shouldn’t worry.

“People underestimate football fans in general,” Cooper told CNN Sport. “Overall, I think people feel like the fans are thick, but I think you will see a lot of common sense when the games start.”

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Liverpool can win the Premier League on Sunday if the results reach it.

Too early?

Cooper is part of a group of fans who have traveled inside and outside to watch Liverpool play for decades.

They have all missed their usual dose of football and say seeing their team lift the Premier League trophy will be a welcome boost for morale.

However, not everyone agrees that the time has come to return and that lessons should be learned from the controversial March 9 game against Champions League against Atletico Madrid.

Professor Tim Spector of King’s College London said the area had peaked in cases after the match was played outside a crowded Anfield stadium, weeks before the lockout.
The UK currently has 298,136 confirmed cases of coronavirus with 41,969 deaths, according to the latest figures.

“I think it’s too early for them to bring football back. They were too late to lock out,” said longtime Reds fan Terry Maher.

“Atletico [Madrid] the game was the big one. They should never have played the game. We mixed with the Spanish fans all night until the wee hours of the morning, singing and dancing with them.

“It should never have gone ahead and I don’t think we should be playing next week.”

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Liverpool supporters crowd the stands at Anfield.

Boost morale

Many fans agree that the return of football will be good psychologically.

A survey by Level Playing Field found that 43% of participants said that suspending live sport had a significant impact on their mental health.

In addition, 62% of supporters feared it would have a huge impact on their personal well-being if they were unable to return to the games next season.

This is an opinion echoed by Alastair Campbell, who was a former spokesperson for Tony Blair when he was British Prime Minister. Campbell strongly criticized the way the current British government has handled the pandemic.

He points to the successful return of the German Bundesliga as a reason for hope.

“I think Germany has shown that it can be done and speaking to people I know in football it seems that the world of football is very well taken care of in terms of testing and protocols,” said Burnley fan Campbell told CNN Sport.

“I think the risk to the general public is negligible and the need to recover football is strong.”

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Fears are that fans will gather outside the stadiums, especially if Liverpool win the league.

Financial implications

The return of football is not only for the benefit of national morale, there is an undeniable financial aspect.

A recent report from financial services firm Deloitte indicates that the Premier League could face a loss of more than $ 1 billion, in part due to losses in broadcast deals and day-to-day revenues.

“The return of football – in a safe and reasonable manner – is clearly important to limit the financial impact of the pandemic,” said Dan Jones, head of the Sports Business Group at Deloitte.

“Much remains unclear, particularly regarding the timing and extent of supporters returning to the stadiums and the impact on wider businesses of trading and broadcasting partners.”

Safety instructions

Like the Bundesliga, Premier League teams will have to follow strict guidelines that describe who can enter the stadium on match day.

The stadiums will be divided into red, amber and green areas with only 300 people allowed to enter and all encouraged to respect the rules of social distancing.

Only 110 people will be allowed in the field, everyone must have returned a negative coronavirus test in the previous five days.

Match balls, corner flags and goalposts will be thoroughly cleaned during the match, but substitutes and coaching staff will not be required to wear protective masks in the reconfigured technical areas.

Teams will also arrive separately at the stadium and enter the field at staggered times to minimize the risk of infection.

Players were asked not to spit or clean their noses on the field and were urged not to surround match officials during the match.

Due to the congestion of the match list until the end of the season, the matches will be stopped for a drink break in the middle of each half, each team being entitled to a maximum of five substitutes – usually against three.

Clubs were also encouraged not to stay in local hotels the day before the match and were invited to attend matches whenever possible.

A Norwich City player was one of two people who tested positive for Covid-19 after the last round of tests.

Black Lives Matter

The names on the back of the players’ shirts will be replaced by “ Black Lives Matter ” for the first 12 games of the season as the Premier League responds to the anti-racist protests that have spread around the world, caused by the deaths of George Floyd. .

Players will also be supported if they decide to take a knee before or during games and a Black Lives Matter badge will be visible on each jersey for the rest of the season.

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