Premier League clubs have unanimously agreed to stage one of Project Restart in Monday’s meeting, which involved representatives from all 20 clubs in the league. Players will resume training from Tuesday, in small groups with football pencilled in to return on Friday 19 June 2020, at eat earliest. The first major step in the return of football in England.
Players will be allowed to train together in groups of no more than five as clubs look to build upon their fitness ahead of Project Restart actually taking off. It is clear that Premier League clubs actually want the season to be completed, rather than cancelled like the Scottish Premiership, making Celtic champions for the ninth time in a row.
The training will maintain social distancing with contact training not yet permitted. It is clear the league and the clubs want to maintain safety, carefully watching what is happening all of the time. The Bundesliga resumed their season this weekend with eight matches being played over Saturday and Sunday with another match this evening.
The plans may be in the early stages of the restart and in upcoming meetings, clubs will be required to vote on many different aspects of the season resuming, including playing matches at home stadiums, rather than neutral venues, as has been part of the plan for a number of weeks now. Obviously, taking things slow is the method here.
The first stage of Project Restart was agreed in consultation with players, managers, Premier League club doctors, independent experts and the Government. Strict medical protocols will be enforced in training, ensuring that the environment is safe and every player involved is doing what they need to be doing. A semi return to normality, it would seem.
The Premier League will concentrate on the health and well-being of all participants with the return to training being a step-by-step process. There will be full consultation with players, managers, clubs, the PFA and the LMA to find a way for clubs to apply full-contact training, which will be needed before the league resumes, which is long-awaited by many.
When the Premier League does return, many of the matches will be broadcast on Sky Sports and BT Sport, with Amazon possibly being involved in others and more on free-to-air platforms, such as the BBC. It has been reported that both Sky and BT will be seeking to add cameras to dressing rooms and microphones in technical areas.
We have seen from the Bundesliga’s return that football without fans is something that is not quite right but also something that is going to be the new normal for a period of time. Hearing the players, coaches and managers shouting and the rattle of the netting when a goal has been scored is something that you only hear in youth matches normally.
It has become the new normal also. This increased access could reduce the sum of money clubs would have to pay back as part of TV rights, giving supporters, journalists and pundits more access to what goes on behind the scenes. There could even be camera in the tunnel at grounds and interviews with managers and/or players at half time.