The last few months were an endless stream of bad news and painful measures taken by governments to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus.
One of the most painful of these – for sports fans, that is – was a blanket ban on pretty much all sporting events. Now that the first wave of the pandemic seems to have passed in several countries, sports can also resume – with the focus on the safety and health of the players and staff, of course.
Bundesliga has returned in May, and Hungary has also resumed its football season suspended by the pandemic – it went one step further, though, also allowing stadiums to be filled with fans up to a limit. The NB1 final was followed by about 10,000 fans in person and countless others from home, on TV.
But as you might expect, there are voices out there claiming that football is returning too soon. And many of these voices are calling out of the UK.
Clubs as scapegoats?
Some Premier League clubs have voiced their concerns as early as April about becoming the scapegoats of potential new flare-ups of the disease. Their worries were related to supporters gathering outside their stadiums when the football season resumes and ignoring the social distancing requirements meant to limit the virus’ spread.
Many fans are not too keen either
A recent poll conducted by British Internet-based market research and data analytics firm YouGov shows that nearly half of the UK believes that football is returning way too soon. The poll shows that 48% of the respondents don’t think the Premier League should resume on June 17th, while only 26% of the respondents think that it’s the right time for football to resume. Moreover, only about 40% of the respondents who declared themselves football fans think that June 17th is too early for football to resume, considering the public health situation.
The same poll reveals that 33% of the general population (23% of those interested in the Premier League) think that reopening football on June 17 represents a higher amount of risk for the athletes.
Kickoff on June 17th
Even though many people consider it too soon (and some, way too late, claiming that the EPL should have returned immediately after the German Bundesliga), the first match in Project Restart starts on June 17th at 6PM local time.
Aston Villa and Sheffield will be the first teams to face off at Villa Park, the home of the former. The match will be played without any spectators, of course. Fans will be able to follow the match on Sky Sports. Unlike in previous years, all the matches will be televised – the BBC will broadcast four live matches, with the rest being shown by Sky, BT, and Amazon.