Project Restart – Tonight’s The NightPeter Houghton
After 100 days of lockdown, Association Football makes a welcome return this evening as the Premier League sets the “new world” ball rolling. When the first Sky Sports matches hit our screens in 1992, I recall a firework sign at the first Monday night match, between Manchester City and Queens Park Rangers revealing that football was “A whole new ball game”.
Tonight sees another manifestation of that as the two matches, also brought to our screens by Sky Sports, will take place without the presence of spectators, as our professional sporting world starts its recovery processes following the Covid-19 Worldwide Pandemic.
So, with the risk assessments in place, cleaning and testing carried out, Aston Villa will host Sheffield United at Villa Park at 1800 hrs tonight followed by Manchester City v Arsenal at 2015 hrs.
These are effectively “catch-up” matches for teams who missed a fixture due to continued involvement in the EFL’s Carabao Cup Final. By the end of the day, each team in the Premier League will have played 29 matches.
We have seen the success of the restart in the German Bundesliga and we believe that not only do we have a better product, but also very professional safety officers who will ensure that what we see in our stadiums, which will be subject to minute scrutiny by broadcasters and written press, is at least commensurate with the German model.
The BBC has stated that the next step, of allowing fans back into our stadiums is already being discussed. This, my colleagues and friends is our next major challenge!