The English Premier League. The name bears its prestige and presence in global football. One of the richest and most followed league in the world, with millions of fans, regular viewers and stadium crazy spectators rooting for their favourite sides for ten months of top tier football action using online betting PA.
However, 2020 has made a mark in the history of the esteemed football league, as the novel Coronavirus pandemic caused a halt of more than three months, the longest suspension it had faced since the Second World War. Now with the reduction of the COVID-19 crisis in the United Kingdom, Premier League is finally back, with the resumption of the 2019-20 season, which has been termed as ‘Project Restart’. The question is, is the excitement back?
The resumption of football in such troubling times is undoubtedly a huge achievement for the English football system. For a country’s population that lives and breathes the beautiful game, restart of all major football activities is undoubtedly bringing in a ray of hope and exhilaration, as Chief Executive Richard Masters has corresponded. Not just the fans, but the footballers are finally able to return to training, and to don the jerseys and be back in the job they are the best in.
“I’m feeling very excited,” Masters was quoted via PL’s official website last week. “It is the culmination of a lot of hard work, a lot of consultation with clubs, with players, with managers, with other organisations and particularly with government.”
Fans are undoubtedly delighted on the return of football, as the remaining nine match days have started from 17th May. Seeing your favourite stars in their natural habitat after months of monotony is a fresh breeze of air. But is the return of PL surrounded by all joy and elation? Because there are some fundamental changes to the familiar sport.
First of all, forget about going to stadiums. While the UK government has given a green light to resume all sporting activities in the country with the ease of lock down, the threat from COVID-19 and chances of contamination is still very much prevalent. As a result, Premier League decided to go ahead in a behind closed doors format for the rest of the season.
More than 300k positive cases have been reported in the UK till date, and 42,632 patients succumbed to the virus. Gathering up in the stadiums in the current scenario is a very risky affair and bears a chance of rapid spread of the virus again. As a result, the teams will have to play the remaining matches of the season in front of empty crowds, without the banners, anthems and the powerful aura that we have been familiar with in the English football culture for years.
Under ‘Project Restart’, Premier League has taken all the necessary regulations which are required against COVID-19, from a number of sanitary measures such as sterilisation of match balls to regular testing of players and staffs. While the teams have just recently started contact training, each club has also begun testing 40 individuals twice a week. In case a player or a staff tests positive, the individual is put under quarantine away from the club. Till date, all PL sides have collectively done 8,687 tests, and 16 returned positive.
Taking a player who has tested positive away from the squad for self isolation is a necessary safety measure for the whole team, but this can surely affect the first team chemistry. In addition to crowd less stands, not having all the players of the regular starting eleven can hinder morale.