After much rumour and whispers, the Premier League’s formal ‘Project Restart’ plans have been revealed.
And, sensationally, the dossier suggests that football could return as early as June 8, should the proposal be given the green light by the government.
Premier League chiefs have sent out a revised fixture list to clubs, and its contents will be discussed in a Skype meeting on Friday.
The timeline suggests that players will make a staggered return to training, first individually and in small groups before full training resumes on May 18.
However, and this is something that is not being reported across the board, these measures will only be signed off IF Boris Johnson and his advisers ease lockdown restrictions on May 7.
The next week will be spent analysing the situation in countries such as New Zealand, South Korea and Germany, where similar restrictions have been lifted in the past few days.
There is little chance that the government will take any risks, and neither will football be given special treatment in fast-tracking its return unless it is completely safe to do so. However, the culture secretary Oliver Dowden has confirmed he has spoken at length to Premier League chiefs ‘with a view to getting football up and running as soon as possible.’
The Project Restart package has identified Monday June 8, bizarrely, as the first date that behind-closed-doors games will go ahead.
There are plans in place for all players to be tested for the virus across the weekend of May 8-9, and those with negative results will then return to training on the Monday.
As part of that resumption to life on the training ground, a number of rules will be introduced, including:
- All players must wear a mask, snood or protective item
- No medical treatments or massages unless absolutely essential
- All players/staff must park three spaces apart
Liverpool’s Mayor Bemoans ‘Farcical’ Plans for Resumption
Even though the red half of his city is closing in on their first ever Premier League triumph, the mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson has called Project Restart’s plans ‘farcical’.
He fears large crowds of fans meeting outside their Anfield home even if the team is playing behind closed doors or at a neutral venue.
“Even if it was behind closed doors, there’d be many thousands of people who would turn up outside Anfield,
“There’s not many people who would respect what we were saying and stay away from the ground, a lot of people would come to celebrate so I think it’s a non-starter.”
However, there are likely to be chaotic scenes in the city centre if the Reds are crowned champions should the season be ended immediately – similar to the scenario in France, where PSG are set to be named Ligue 1 champions after the French authorities banned football from returning before September.
And you can only imagine the uproar if the 2019/20 campaign was declared null and void with Liverpool 25 points clear with nine rounds of matches to be played.
One of the contingencies in the Project Restart plan is that only ‘approved’ grounds will be used to stage matches, which may mean that some games are hosted at neutral venues to help cut down the amount of manpower needed from the emergency services.