The Premier League and the English Football League have both been given the green light to resume in June. Football was suspended mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the world, suspending football all over the world. The Bundesliga is due to resume this weekend in Germany, prompting other country to resume too.
Both the Premier League and the EFL have also been told to thrash out deals with television companies to ensure that there are free to air matches when the competitions kick off again. This has been the most political approval of football to resume against with Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden declaring:
“The Government is opening the door for competitive football to return safely in June.
“This should include widening access for fans to view live coverage and ensure finances from the game’s resumption supports the wider football family.”
Dowden hosted a video meeting with the chief executives of the Premier League, the EFL and Football Association on Thursday, sending them away to finalise preparations for a return to action next month. Dominic Raab previously said that he would like to see the return of football as a boost to the nation. It would be good to see it return again. Dowden said:
“It is now up to the football authorities to agree and finalise the detail of their plans.
“There is combined goodwill to achieve this for their fans, the football community and the nation as a whole.
“The Government and our medical experts will continue to offer guidance and support to the game ahead of any final decision which would put these plans into action.”
It is suggested that ministers feel that both Sky and BT, who currently hold the right to Premier League and EFL football this season, should come up with a scheme that will see a share of matches played being made available to those that are not current subscribers to the channels that air live club football matches.
With the Government clearly behind the return of football and police chiefs seemingly softening their stance on the neutral venues plan, the only major hurdle would be reluctance from players to return to action this season. However, Dowden has tried to reassure players with a further comment, saying:
“We all agreed that we will only go ahead if it is safe to do so and the health and welfare of players, coaches and staff comes first.”
Deputy Chief Medical Officer Prof Jonathan Van-Tam has suggested that the Premier League be ‘slow and measured’ in their plans to resume the 2019/20 season next month as there are fears that the process is being rushed, which could endanger more lives. Social distancing will remain a priority. Professor Van-Tam, answering a question, said:
“As you know, the overall approach with easing social distancing has been one that has been tentative, measured, slow and step-wise.
“And that is exactly the plan that is underway for all of elite sports, not just football.
“There will be small, carefully measured step-wise approaches to seeing what can be achieved safely.
“The first of those is really to return to safe training while still observing social distancing.
“And measures are taking place and plans are taking place at quite some depth to be ready to do that. That will be a step-wise thing.
“We will have to see how that goes before it is time to move on or even think about moving on to the return of competitive football matches as you have outlined your question.
We have to be slow and measured.”
It will certainly have to be carefully planned, but saying that, lots of people will be expected to start heading back to work after some lockdown restrictions were relaxed with many industries resuming. Those that feel footballers should be protected might do well thinking about everyone else who is back at work or who has worked through this whole pandemic.