Football returns: How will it work?

For Football fans, the last three months have been have been a barren wasteland of Euro ’96 re-runs and hardcore Fifa sessions. Thanks to the current pandemic, the 2019-20 Premier League season has been on full suspension with no games being played since the 9th of March. Tomorrow that all changes. Tomorrow football is back!

All 92 games will be played behind closed doors over the next six weeks.

We’ve put together a list of the ways that the Premier League will be different when football returns tomorrow.

No fans at the games:

Each of the 92 games will be played ‘behind closed doors’ with all the stands sitting empty. Supporters who have already bought tickets to forthcoming games will reportedly be refunded. The lost atmosphere will be replaced by artificial crowd noise similar to that used in computer games (that doesn’t sound great).

This will most likely remove most of the ‘home advantage’ enjoyed by teams playing at their own grounds.

TV:

All of the remaining games will be available to watch on TV. 33 of which will be on free-to-air channels including 4 matches shown on the BBC. All the games will be live and we expect things like Match of the Day to return in a fashion we are used to.

Red, Green and Amber Zones:

The new ‘Red Zone’ will comprise of the pitch, tunnel, and technical areas. There will be a maximum of 110 people allowed in these areas. When entering the pitch before a game, players will not be able to enter side-by-side as before. They will come out one at a time or through separate entrances.

Each team will get 37 Red Zone passes. 20 for the players, 12 for the coaches and 5 for essential staff members. 1 referee, 2 assistant referees and the fourth official will also have Red Zone passes.

The Green and Amber Zones will be accessible to broadcasters, 25 written journalists and 15 radio broadcasters. A total of 222 people will be allowed in these areas which will be outside of the Red Zones.

Ball Boys:

There will be no ball boys at any of the matches, Replaced instead with a ‘ball replenishment system’. These will simply be balls stacked on cones, placed at strategic positions around the pitch. All balls will be disinfected before use.

Corona Virus Tests:

All players and staff will be required to have two tests per week to look for COVID-19. Testing has already begun with over 8,000 tests conducted.

The results of these tests will be placed into ‘COVID-19 Passports’ that each person will have to present upon arrival at each stadium. It will essentially be a barcode that can be scanned and will prove that they tested negative for the virus.

Substitutions:

For the rest of the season, managers will be able to make 5 substitutions during a game. Instead of the normal 3. They will also be able to name 9 potential subs rather than the normal 7. This is because matches will be closer together and the players may not get their normal amount of recovery time.

Handshakes, Changing rooms and Spitting:

The pre-match ritual of shaking hands will no longer take place and players will have to use hadn’t sanitiser prior to entering the pitch.

Changing rooms will still be used if they are big enough to allow social distancing but if not, larger rooms within the stadiums will be utilised.

Players have been explicitly asked not to spit or clear their nostrils whilst playing. Something some fans have been asking for, for years.

We’re excited to see the return of Football but maybe not as much as Liverpool fans. Let us know in the comments what match-up you’re most looking forward to.