In the same week that the SpaceX launched from Florida so, finally, has Project Restart. The Premier League will join the Bundesliga, La Liga and Serie A in taking their first steps to finish their season when Aston Villa, Sheffield United, Arsenal and Manchester City play on Wednesday 17th June. Those two games are quite significant as they are the games in hand that each club needs to play to take them up to twenty-nine games played. If only those two games are played at least it will dispense the argument that you cannot calculate games on a Points Per Game basis (PPG) if the teams have not all played the same number of games.
The Premier League have spelt out a vision, with the Football Association, of how they can finish the League programme and the FA Cup (it is probably a good job that only Premier League teams are still left in) by 1st August. Games will be played over a number of days (all behind closed doors) and at separate times so that no two games will be played at the same time. This will, of course, allow all the games to be played live on television with Sky, BT Sport, BBC and Amazon Prime all taking up varying numbers of games. The BBC games will be all Free to Air with around 25 of the Sky games also being Free on the Sky platform.
So far so good. The Government has allowed sport to recommence on the 1st of June, so it now looks as though all that is required is for the teams to agree times and dates for all the fixtures. The ‘no to neutral venues’ lobby appears to have won through although the Police authorities have requested that certain games are still played at neutral venues for ‘safety concerns’.
The neutral venue option has been a moot point for some of the teams, like Aston Villa, who have a disproportionate number of home games left. Their argument would be that they should have the option to play these games at their own stadium where they have a greater success – seven of Aston Villa’s nine victories have been at home so far this season. There may not be an issue there though. The ‘home effect’ is probably removed once you take away the home support as, so far since restarting, in the Bundesliga less than 20% of games have been won by the home team with more than 40% being won by the away team.
We are still taking small steps to the restart of the Premier League, but the signs are good so far. Contact in training has resumed and the last round of Covid-19 tests have all resulted in negative test results. There are still seventeen days to go but we might be ready to start in the Premier League although the EFL have still not finalised all their requirements for the Championship, League One and League Two. Watch this space on that.
Posted : 1st June 2020