When will the Premier League restart?
The League has set a provisional date for return of 17 June. That’s a Wednesday, when two games would be played: Manchester City v Arsenal and Aston Villa v Sheffield United. They are the two fixtures left over from March. Once completed, all clubs will have played 29 games each. A full programme of fixtures would then follow at the weekend.
When will the games be played?
The plan is to complete all 92 remaining fixtures before 2 August, a deadline set by Uefa. That means there is going to be a lot of Premier League football in June and July. The published schedule for matches features games every day of the week, often at multiple times. The kick offs will be: Friday 8pm; Saturday 12.30pm, 3pm, 5.30pm, 8pm; Sunday 12pm, 2pm, 4.30pm, 5pm; Monday 8pm; Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday 6pm and 8pm.
Where will the games be played?
Mostly at stadiums of the home team, always behind closed doors. Concerns over the possibility of fans gathering outside groundshave led the police to request the following games take place at neutral venues: Manchester City v Liverpool, Manchester City v Newcastle, Manchester United v Sheffield United, Newcastle v Liverpool and Everton v Liverpool. The police have also asked that this list includes any match that may see Liverpool win the title.
When can Liverpool win the title?
With Jürgen Klopp’s team 25 points clear of their nearest rivals Manchester City, Liverpool could win the league with their first fixture, the Merseyside derby. That would require City to have lost against Arsenal. Liverpool, whatever their rivals do, need two wins to seal their first championship in 30 years. How they will celebrate any win is to be decided, with the league drawing up plans for a physically-distant trophy lift.
What role will TV play?
With no fans allowed into stadiums, the resumption will be made for TV. Every match will be shown live, the majority – 64 of 92 – on Sky. The broadcaster has pledged to show 25 games free to air. BT Sport will show 20 matches but none will be free to air. Amazon will show four games and, in a first for the national broadcaster, the BBC will also show four Premier League matches live.
What about the fans?
Project Restart has involved no shortage of problems but the question of how any resumption should include the people who would have filled the stands has not been at the forefront. There may be cardboard cutouts of fans, as in Germany, there may be videos shown on big screens, but the interaction between fan and team will be lost. Most clubs have announced that ticket holders will be refunded for matches behind closed doors.
And what about the Football League?
As it stands none of the three divisions beneath the Premier League have resolved what to do next. League Two clubs had voted to end the season, while League One remains divided over what to do and the Championship hopes to resume. The EFL has announced a meeting on 8 June at which a process for deciding on possible outcomes will finally be agreed.
Could the restart still be stopped?
The Premier League has always said it planned to resume competition when it was “safe to do so”. That is now felt to be the case after medical protocols were developed and approved by clubs and players. Any player or member of staff who tests positive for Covid-19 will be expected to isolate for seven days but plans as to what will happen should multiple players test positive are yet to be agreed. A broader resurgence of the virus in the country may also take the restart out of the league’s control.