Project Restart – All systems GoPeter Houghton
The restart of Premier League matches has been given the go-ahead for 17 June 2020, when Manchester City will host Arsenal and Aston Villa play Sheffield United. This will ensure that by the time a full weekend card comes around, all teams will have played 29 matches.
Although matches will be played without the presence of spectators, safety officer will still need to ensure they have their Covid-19 risk assessments in place, together with the respective mitigations.
There is still uncertainty about the use of neutral venues. Whereas clubs were receptive to using their own stadiums, police authorities expressed some concern about things like the North London “derby” between Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal, their principal concern surrounds matches involving Liverpool where they have a chance of securing the title. This commences with their “derby” against Everton, the home match with Crystal Palace and possibly the match against Manchester City the following week.
I understand that supporter groups representing Liverpool fans are a bit upset that they seem to have been selected against, but winning their first title in 30 years is a massive situation in any environment, let alone one where spectators have to remain in absentia. There is a line of thought that suggests such matches will be played in Manchester.
Obviously, more information will emerge over the next couple of weeks. The main feeling seems to be that Anfield is not a site that can be locked down, unlike the Etihad Campus, an “island” site with a surrounding fence.