The return of football seems to pale into insignificance at the moment with the COVID-19 pandemic causing mayhem and death throughout the world.
However, the simple fact is that people may take a small crumb of comfort from some live sports action. No, football will not be the same without fans, as most games are set to take place behind closed doors. Any football would be a welcome tonic, even if it is the equivalent of a friendly tournament at a neutral venue.
Premier League return by June
The Premier League have pencilled in a return to action in June after talks with government minister Oliver Dowden, who is keen for the game to return as soon as possible. However, the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Secretary has stated a return will only happen if it complies with public health guidance.
Several Premier League clubs, including Arsenal, Tottenham and West Ham have now returned to limited training. This is not a return normalcy, though, with social distance still in effect, as the UK are still in lockdown. Football and footballers are not immune to the virus, so there must be caution operated.
Football without fans
If and when football returns one thing is almost certain is that there will be no fans present at the grounds. In fact, there have been plans that all the games could be played at neutral grounds or in an area of the country.
Some will say that football is not the same without fans. Which is a fair point, as crowds do influence games, there is no doubt about it. There is even a case for football to hibernate until fans are allowed in games again.
Unfortunately, due to financial commitments, it seems that it is now more likely to return behind closed doors. It seems that fans may not return to football stadiums until 2021.
Although behind the closed doors matches seem to be a way forward. Even without fans, there are likely to have to be a lot of personnel. Estimates have been made that at least 250 people will need to be in attendance for a game. That means not just players, coaches and officials, but also media and medical staff as well as other club officials in attendance.
That is a lot of individuals who will be mixing and being amongst each other. The prospect of behind closed doors football is still dangerous. If one person involved in the game contracts COVID-19, then there will have to be a complete rethink. The Premier League will likely have to curtail the campaign.
Nothing will happen until it is safe
There is no doubt that nothing should happen in the Premier League while there is such a high death rate in the UK. Other countries are ahead of the UK in terms of how they are dealing with the pandemic.
For instance, it is widely acknowledged that Germany is far ahead of the UK. The Bundesliga is reportedly hoping to return to action in mid-June, as the players the have already returned to training.
Other leagues, including the Premier League, will be monitoring the situation in Germany. If the restart in the Bundesliga is successful, then the English top-flight will receive encouragement. However, if it is not successful, then the English football may have to face up to the fact that the season 2019/20 may not yet reach its natural conclusion.
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