The Premier League will re-start on June 17th it has been announced.
The season will resume with Aston Villa v Sheffield United and Manchester City v Arsenal, subject to government approval, which, I have to say, seems a given. A full round of matches will then take place over the weekend 19-21 June.
All of the remaining 92 games will be played without crowds, due to the risk of COVID-19, and I’m sure you’ve all read about the twice a week testing program that the PL have enforced. All matches will also be broadcast live on Sky Sports, BT Sport, BBC Sport or Amazon Prime. For the first time since 1992, the BBC will show four live Premier League games, while Sky Sports will show 64 games, with 25 being free-to-air.
It seems as though there will be a glut of football over the next few weeks with it seeming as though a six week period of weekend and mid-week matches will be required to finish the season by 25th July, which the BBC understands is the league’s preferred end date. Details of the FA Cup’s resumption will be announced on Friday morning,
I have very mixed thoughts over this.
The government will give approval to play, that’s for sure. They are desperately looking to deflect the Dominic Cummings saga away from them by any means they can. This shameful moment in this government’s short term is still rumbling on with the Prime Minister now even directing his aides not to speak about it and not allowing journalists at the daily briefing on Thursday the chance of a follow up question. ITV’s Robert Peston described it on his Twitter page as being “near to tin-pot dictatorship.“
So, of course the government will want the masses to have something to take their minds of it all.
Meanwhile, the death toll has reached over 37,000 with more than 300 souls lost on Thursday. The “R” rate is reported as being between 0.7-0.9 in England at present, which doesn’t seem to have changed for a couple of weeks, at least in my memory. It seems perilously close to 1.0, which is seemingly the trigger for more lockdown.
I really don’t know what to make of it. On the one hand, I’ve always loved football/sport and it’s return does excite me a little but I temper that on the other hand with the seriousness of this global pandemic and being fearful for my family’s health and that of my friends and colleagues.
There are a lot of complex issues here and money obviously tops the list. It is certainly about greed at the top end of the football pyramid and not wanting to lose anymore money than has already been lost but lower down, people are at serious risk of losing their livelihoods and, in some case in Leagues One and Two, the football clubs that they and their families have supported for generations could disappear for ever.
I can foresee a drastic constriction of the football market. Players out of contract will be without clubs and may never find another. That won’t affect the out of contract top players, like say, Jan Vertonghen at Spurs, but the lads who have just been released by Norwich, like Mason Bloomfield, Alfie Payne, Tom Scully etc. They could find it really hard, where previously they would have a good shot at starting again in the lower leagues.
That’s before you start considering the admin staff at these lower league clubs and the match day only staff who might rely on their weekly top-up from their Saturday job.
I haven’t watched any of the Bundesliga, as I don’t have BT Sport. While some fans I know have been scratching around for dodgy internet links, I haven’t been bothered in the slightest and considering I write a football blog as a hobby, that has surprised me.
I just haven’t missed football like I thought I would.
I have missed going to Carrow Road though. It’s been a massive part of our lives, my life, for as long as I have been able to go out on my own, which is knocking on the door of forty years now. It’s a social thing as well and the thought of football without crowds turns me cold.
I imagine if you’re an armchair supporter only and have never experienced a live game then this might not affect you too much. I know not everyone can get to games but I hope you understand what I’m saying here.
The bottom line in all this though is that lives have been lost, a huge amount of lives, and while the government report over 37,000 lost to COVID-19, the figures for deaths at this time of year are over 60,000 higher than normal. That figure is above what would normally be expected at this time in a normal year. So where have those extra deaths come from? Make your own mind up.
The Championship is also getting ready for a re-start and has started testing. Three players have tested positive, two at Fulham (unnamed) and all round nice guy, Elliot Bennett, now Captain at Blackburn. Benno is a great guy and fondly remembered here at Norwich, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he gets through it okay with no lasting effects either.
I know that life has to get back to normal as soon as it can but I, for one, want to go out and about but I don’t. You know want I mean? I won’t be going anywhere remotely busy for quite sometime yet and that’s even when things do open up more. This virus kills people and the frivolous things, like sport are not really on my radar.
It’s still too soon for football in human terms but for the money men and the politicians, it can’t come soon enough.