The football world came to a halt on the 13th March as early COVID-19 fears delayed until further notice – but speculation today suggests Premier League football will return on the 17th June.
Nicknamed ‘Project Restart’, a plan is in place to resume the Premier League season and finish the remaining matches. A proposal first raised in April wanted the remaining 92 matches to be played out over a six-week period in “approved stadiums”, as opposed to using all stadia in the league.
Fans will be keen to see the outcome of the league, however it is realistic to think that Liverpool FC will win the title after amassing 82 points from 29 games, only losing once. Liverpool were 25 points above second-placed Manchester City FC when the season was paused.
An indication into the start of the league suggests that once the season returns, it will be Aston Villa vs Sheffield United and Manchester City vs Arsenal. These were the remaining “games in hand”, meaning that once these had been played, all teams would have played the same amount of games in the league.
A further timetable would be announced in due course, should these rumours of a restart prove correct. It is also rumoured that the Premier League would be hoping to have this season culminated around the start of August.
Despite the Premier League confirming four more positive Coronavirus tests from players or staff members in the last round of testing, and a further three in todays testing, training has returned for players at clubs. The board feel it is safe for training to resume, even with the threat of the virus affecting people at many clubs.
The twenty clubs in the top flight of the English football have unaminously appoved a plan to resume full contact in training, meaning that tackling for the ball is once again allowed.
The step up in training intensity also means that small groups can train together, rather than individually – as was deemed necessary when thw players returned to training last week.
Declan Parsons is a member of the Official Nottingham Forest Supporters Club and travels to every Forest match home and away, league and cup. He points to the return of football in Germany’s top two divisions and hopes that English football can follow suit.
Declan Parsons, of the Official Nottingham Forest FC Supporters Club, on the restart of football
“everybody wants to just get the football back underway”
DECLAN PARSONS, NFFC SUPPORTERS CLUB
Nottingham Forest were 5th in the league table when the season was put on pause, 5 points clear in the play-offs, but 10 points away from the automatic promotion places.
He notes how “as a whole, everybody wants to just get the football back underway”, saying that “the only fair way is to complete the rest of the season to determine promotions and relegations.” Declan hopes that should football resume, that it won’t be much longer until fans can return as well as he wishes to see his team finish the season strongly.
Declan on the prospects of the season being finished
The same thoughts cannot be shared with Ryan Fellman, a season ticket holder and lifelong fan of the League Two side, Leyton Orient FC.
Leyton Orient were enjoying their first season back in the Football League after three seasons in the National League. The team were 17th in the league at the time of the pandemic breaking out.
Ryan doesn’t think it “makes any sense” to return as its a contact sport. He says that “they’re going to come into contact with other players, [and] they’re going to catch the virus”. For Ryan, football should not return until a vaccine has been created.
Ryan Fellman, a season ticket holder for Leyton Orient FC, discussing whether it’s safe for football to return
Ryan also think it’ll be “weird to go back to normality” with the return of football, whilst saying that even travelling to games will be unsafe, as “a lot of Orient fans have to travel underground [in] packed out tubes [and] buses”. He thinks its a “dangerous place to be” as people will be in close contact with others, meaning the virus will be easily spreadable, especially within stadia.
Ryan on whether it’ll be safe for fans to return to football matches
The sentiment that the season will shortly be safe to return is not shared with Jill Clarridge, a veteran season ticket holder of 47 years at Manchester United FC. She believes that it is “not safe for them to go back” as they need to “void the whole seasons and start anew” as continuing would put players and staff members lives in danger.
Jill Clarridge, MUFC season ticket holder, on whether the football season should end
It may not be much longer until we see the return of football in the country, and the rest of Europe may follow as UEFA are keen to see their European competitions completed.