Football Is Returning But Not As We Know It

The Bundesliga became the first major league in Europe to return after an having to take an unprecedented hiatus due to the pandemic that has hit the globe hard.

While Germany was unable to escape the virus, it is no surprise that they have dealt with it as efficiently as they possibly could, but the Premier League are now following their lead.

It has been announced that the top division in England will get started again on Wednesday 17th June as Project Restart kicks into action. That is on the proviso that all safety requirements are put in place.

The scheduling of the remaining 92 games looks very different. Those sides with a game in hand are in line to get us underway – Aston Villa are to host Sheffield United and Manchester City play Arsenal at the Etihad on the 17 June with a full fixture list to follow that weekend.

As we were already aware, all remaining matches that are to be played to conclude the 2019-20 season will be played behind closed doors. However, it has been agreed that all remaining games will be shown live on television by all existing broadcast partners – Sky Sports, BT Sport, BBC Sport and Amazon Prime (four games have been agreed to be aired on the BBC).

Due to all games being shown broadcast live, kick off times will differ;

  • Friday 8pm
  • Saturday 12:30pm, 3pm, 5.30pm, 8pm
  • Sunday 12pm, 2pm, 4.30pm, 7pm
  • Monday 8pm
  • Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday 6pm, 8pm

The FA Cup quarter-finals have been rescheduled for the weekend of 27-28 June with the final set to take place on Saturday 1 August. The dates are dependent on all safety measures being met with venues and kick-off times yet to be confirmed. The semi-finals have been rescheduled for 11-12 July.

The draw for the quarter finals was made on the 9th March;

  • Leicester City v Chelsea
  • Newcastle United v Manchester City
  • Sheffield United v Arsenal
  • Norwich City v Manchester United

There has been plenty of discussion around whether or not the season should be concluded or not, but now it is time to stop talking and get on with the football. Whether or not you agree, let’s face it, under whatever guise it comes, it is difficult to complain about the how the game we love will return.

The conversation will continue no doubt, with several names within the game airing caution and reluctance for their own valid reasons, and those need to be understood – if a player does not feel comfortable playing the remaining games of the season, then so be it. They should not be judged on that decision. It is a game after all and health and safety of all involved is paramount – Glenn Murray and Troy Deeney are two of many that have been vocal about the potential restart while there has been plenty of caution about the situation N’Golo Kante finds himself in.

In an interview with Alyson Rudd at The Times, Palace captain Luka Milivojevic revealed his involvement in talks on Project Restart;

“In this situation with this disease, this tough period, we’ve had a lot of meetings, which we never had in the past. It’s pressure; how are you going to transfer [relate] to the players what has happened in the meeting, the opinions of the other captains, but in the end, it is part of the role and I’m going to do it. I have to be very responsible, for my teammates, but the most important thing is that we fix all these things in our house.

Perhaps we should be thankful that we have something to fill that massive void however meagre it may seem without fans.

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