We are now hearing tentative talk about the Premier League returning in the coming weeks.
The future of the 2019/20 season is still up in the air, but it looks unlikely that English football will follow in the footsteps of the Netherlands’ Eredivisie and France’s Ligue 1 in calling the campaign off.
If games *do* go ahead, there are going to have to be some very strict measures in place to ensure the players’ safety.
Fans aren’t expected to attend for quite some time, with fixtures set to be played behind closed doors.
All in all, the landscape of top-flight football is going to look remarkably different for the foreseeable future.
The UK government reportedly hope bringing the national game back will boost morale, but it won’t be sanctioned without some big changes to the current procedures and norms.
The Sun have listed nine changes which could be brought in to ensure football is played in a sanitised environment.
A sex ban
Germany are talking about bringing football back on May 9, so the English game will have a blueprint to follow. And one of the sacrifices they are demanding of players is refraining from sex if they or their partners show symptoms of coronavirus. Bundesliga stars have also been told to use their elbows to operate the buttons in the lift and arrive at the stadium in separate vehicles.
Yellow cards for spitting
The football pitch is normally the one place where it’s socially acceptable to spit. That will no longer be true and players could be booked for the unhygienic practice, warns FIFA medical committee chairman Michel D’Hooghe.
To clarify, this means teams can make two ‘double substitutions’. There will still only be three opportunities to make changes, but five new players would be brought on over the course of the game, not just three. This is intended to prevent burnout and injuries, as players have been out of action for so long and could have to push through a fixture pile-up.
Balls and pitches sterilised
A change that might go unnoticed. Vigorous cleaning will be undertaken to eliminate coronavirus from every possible surface.
No touching during corners
Players will not be allowed to hold onto one another in the normal way. So, in theory, defenders will have to leave opposition players completely unmarked at set pieces. Business as usual for Spurs, at least.
The big casualty of this rule would be Roy Hodgson. The Crystal Palace manager is 72 and has reportedly told friends he’s concerned he won’t be allowed to attend any more games this season.
Some clubs have already introduced isolated training. Arsenal players are currently working on individual pitches with a ball each. A maximum of five players can train at a time. The Brighton squad, meanwhile, are able to book individual slots on the training pitches.
Like the FA Cup semi-finals of old, these could centre around the Midlands. This would stop fans gathering outside the ground, as they did for PSG vs Borussia Dortmund at the Parc des Princes, which was played behind closed doors in the Champions League.
Nominated hotels could host players for six weeks at a time, where they will remain in a lockdown except being transported to necessary training and games.
Even if the Premier League is able to make its long-awaited comeback, it’s going to be a very different game.
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