As expected, the Premier League has been given the green light to resume on 17th June in order to complete the 2019-20 season, postponed in March after the outbreak of the coronavirus.
With ninety-two matches to be played to a conclusion, there is plenty to get excited about whilst maintaining that safety is paramount to the season having a chance to be finished. Twice weekly testing has already begun for each club with a larger number of people testing increasing week on week and very few positive tests coming back. For now, this is the new ‘normal’ we must get used to and there are of course other stipulations for these games going ahead.
Empty stadiums will be the scene for a few months at least and for definite over the play-out of this campaign. Having watched some of the early Bundesliga games it does look a bit strange and there is of course no atmosphere, but the football is what you concentrate on when you watch a game, not what’s going on in the seats. It might sound a bit hollow, but the game has to return in some form and for now this is it.
Eventually we will see the return of fans to games, the hustle and bustle of noise echoing around the stadiums and things will be as they were, how long the wait is can be anyone’s guess.
What we do have in such a short space of time is wall to wall football on television. Between SKY, BT Sport, BBC and Amazon Prime, all the ninety-two matches will be broadcast live across each weekend with staggered kick off times whilst Friday and Monday nights will also see their fair share of games. Across six weekends and three rounds of midweek action the season is expected to finish by Saturday 25th July intertwined with the latter stages of the FA Cup.
SKY will of course host the bulk of the games, 64 in total with 25 available free to air alongside the games on BBC, which can do it’s part to build a future generation of new fans able to see their team without paying a huge subscription fee at least until a new season starts.
Kicking off the coverage will be Aston Villa vs Sheffield Utd followed by Manchester City vs Arsenal, two games that will bring all sides level on twenty-nine games ready for the final push.
For many though, it’s not going to feel like football, more a hollow offering to preserve the ‘integrity’ of the game by completing the season and so the record books show all thirty-eight games were played. For others it will be a relief to see the game they love back on the grass and a sign that’s it’s the beginning of things once again. There is also the belief it will lift the mental health of a lot of football followers, some whose ritual of Saturdays afternoons has been crushed for the past couple of months.
Whatever your opinion or viewpoint re-starting or voiding the season wasn’t ever going to be popular in the eyes of so many whichever way it went, but here we are and it’s back!
Follow Trevor on Twitter @trevk37