Even as the world continues to fight multiple battles against the coronavirus pandemic, the sporting world is slowly getting back on its feet. The English Premier League is the latest football competition to announce its return, following the resumption of Germany’s Bundesliga and a return declaration of Spain’s La Liga.
The Premier League, along with the EFL and WSL, announced the postponement of all football matches back in mid-March. Now, after a hiatus of nearly 100 days, the world’s most-watched sports league is coming back on June 17, 2020.
Consensus for Project Restart
Ever since the first shareholders’ meet to suspend the football events, Premier League clubs and executives met several times to discuss the changing situations. The authorities permitted individual training after testing all the players and staff of every club. A week after individual training, the league gave a green flag for contact training as well.
However, there was no consensus on exactly when to resume the league. There were several other setbacks, with some players refusing to return to training and some clubs objecting to games at a neutral venue. Canceling the season, like the Dutch Eredivisie, would have meant heavy losses for all the clubs.
Following the successful restart of the Bundesliga, Premier League authorities agreed to bring football back home. In its latest round of talks, the club representatives settled on June 17, 2020, as the date to resume the competition.
Schedule for Return
The first two fixtures to be played on June 17 will be Man City vs. Arsenal and Aston Villa vs. Sheffield United. After this, every top-flight club will have nine matchdays left. The 30th game week will begin from Jun 19, Friday. The authorities are planning to finish the league by the end of June in time to begin the FA Cup ties.
There are rumors that high-profile and Big six games will be played at neutral grounds. This is because of the fear that crowds might gather outside the stadiums after significant easing in the lockdown restrictions. Liverpool is also expected to play their remaining four home games away from Anfield.
Before the league finalized the return dates, a few players objected to the resumption of training. One of these players is N’Golo Kante, who has not joined Chelsea in training. Reasons cited by his French and Chelsea teammates state that the midfielder is prioritizing his health and family over his profession.
Troy Deeney, on the other hand, has preferred to stay away from the training to avoid risking his son’s health. The Watford striker remarked that the circumstances are simply too risky to return to the ground and play.
As things currently stand, Liverpool is sufficiently distanced with a 25-point lead and four games away from the cut. Nonetheless, their victory will remain tainted by the blots of the pandemic with empty stadiums and no victory laps.
The race to book a UCL spot will continue with Manchester City’s termination. The relegation zone will also witness a close battle between six teams. More importantly, football will come back home.