Top-flight clubs edge closer to a return as players return to training today. However, fans could be absent from top-flight football next season. The return of fans is unlikely until a vaccine can be found to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
REPORT: Premier League Face Entire Season Without Fans
No Fans Until a Vaccine is Found
An agreement was made on Monday for teams to return to training. In ‘Phase One’ of the plans, small groups can in preparation for a Premier League return.
The 20 clubs met on Monday to unanimously agree on training to continue from Tuesday afternoon.
Despite this positive step towards ‘Project Restart’, caution will be urged. The league’s medical officer, Dr Mark Gillet, warned of long-term social distancing measures within top-flight football for the foreseeable future.
Speaking to the Evening Standard, he said: “They’ve made it very clear that the social situation. The public health situation is not going to change over the next six to 12 months.
“We’re going to be looking to make the same kind of cultural changes at training grounds and in footballers’ behaviours whether we have this conversation now or at any point this year.
“In terms of [finding and distributing] a vaccine and everybody becoming immune. I don’t think any expert is saying that’s going to happen in the next few months. So certainly, in terms of social distancing and the “new normal” and that cultural change, we are asking footballers to make. I think we are going to have to be facing that for the foreseeable future.
“We are reliant on Government and medical advice. It is prudent for us to plan for the start of next season in different ways and that’s exactly what we’re doing.”
It remains unclear what kind of financial impact this could have on the Premier League. Television rights and revenue will also come into question with higher demand from punters watching at home.
June 12 Return Still Possible
The Premier League hierarchy and clubs remain focussed on a June 12th return. However, some flexibility may be needed over the coming weeks with the start date potentially being pushed back.
In an online press conference last week, Premier League chief executive, Richard Masters, said: “We have been focused on this staging post, it’s not a firm commitment, for June 12.
“Once you know when you can start full contact training and we have had a proper discussion with clubs about how much is required to create the fitness levels before they can start playing we are then in a position to be able to confirm when the season start is.
“So we haven’t changed the start date, we have to be flexible about it. What we don’t want to do is continually move that start date. So we haven’t changed it, we need to be flexible and acknowledge we are in a step by step process.”