Premier League & Project Restart
While the death toll from Covid-19 in the UK exceeded 20,000 this weekend, plans are being pushed forward for the Premier League to restart as soon as possible.
Of course, while these Premier League restart plans are being cooked up, there’s no guarantee that the 2019-20 season will finish.
By contrast, the Dutch FA confirmed in recent days that their 2019-20 season has been declared null and void.
In addition, the National League in England have also confirmed that their season is over.
Yet, the Premier League are hoping to avoid those scenarios through ‘Project Restart’.
When could the 2019-20 Premier League restart & when might it end?
On a possible restart timetable for the Premier League, the Telegraph report:
The Premier League is likely to be among the first to return, with the world’s richest league the best-resourced of any competition to implement whatever measures are put in place.
What is being dubbed ‘Project Restart’ could include staging matches at a limited number of venues from week commencing June 8, with players returning to full training next month.
When it comes to an end date for the season, most are talking about July 31.
The Sunday Times flesh out why this date is so important:
The Premier League is working towards completion by July 27, with July 31 seen as an ultimate deadline to finish domestic games, given that Uefa is making plans to complete its competitions by August and August 22 is pencilled in for the start of the 2020-21 Premier League campaign.
The #PremierLeague could be back in 43 days 😱
“Project Restart”, which was shared with shareholders last week, allows a maximum of 400 people to attend matches, including media, and only if they tested negative for the virus 🦠#OptusSport #PL pic.twitter.com/ONSiOXDiGZ
— Optus Sport (@OptusSport) April 25, 2020
Note: Arsenal set to be the 1st club back in training
In a sign that the Premier League could return to action sooner rather than later, one of the other big stories on Sunday is that Arsenal are ready to get back to work.
The Star, for example, splash the news of Arsenal’s return to training on their back page on Sunday.
On Arsenal’s plans for training, the Telegraph report:
Arsenal will allow their players to return to the club’s London Colney training ground next week, albeit with strict rules to ensure they do not breach social distancing guidelines.
The first-team players will not be taking in group sessions and will only be allowed to do their individual workouts before returning home.
— Giovanni Capuano (@capuanogio) April 26, 2020
Fans forced to continue paying Sky & BT Sport as games like Man City vs Liverpool won’t be free
If the 2019-20 Premier League season does restart, how will Premier League fans get to enjoy the action?
What’s clear is that fans will be banned from attending all the remaining Premier League matches this season.
Instead, as reported in the Sun, amongst others, Sky and BT Sport are planning to screen all the remaining games on their channels.
However, there’s a catch as some of the games are likely to be broadcast for free while other games will be available to subscribers only.
The Sun sum up the proposed broadcasting plans for ‘Project Restart’:
Fans will still need Sky or BT packages for matches that had been scheduled for pay TV when the Premier League returns — but many of the other games may be screened for free.
The plans, dubbed Project Restart, would see fixtures such as Manchester City v Liverpool — which was due to be shown on Sky on April 5 — being screened on a subscription channel.
But other clashes such as Crystal Palace v Burnley — which was not due to be televised — could now be screened free.
The obvious problems of showing games like Man City vs Liverpool behind a paywall
The Covid-19 crisis isn’t just a health problem, but an economic one as well.
Millions have been forced to stop working and social distance at home.
One assumes that many have sought to lower their expenses, which could likely include halting payments to Sky Sports or BT Sport.
But if games like Man City vs Liverpool are available for subscribers only, it’s likely to force people to group together.
Fans could either group outside the stadiums or they could get together to watch the matches.
Source: ‘Sky and BT are not going to give up their rights to games for free’
Considering the possible risks of spreading the virus when football restarts, should Sky and BT Sport be forced to show all Premier League matches for free during ‘Project Restart?’
Well, those companies will refuse to do so, according to a TV executive who has spoken to the Sun on Sunday:
Sky and BT are not going to give up their rights to games for free.
They are businesses after all — and that would be madness.
But other games that were not planned for the TV are now likely to be shown.
TV live streaming vs Talksport radio rights
The Sunday Times have also revealed a possible legal issue regarding ‘Project Restart’ and broadcasting certain matches on TV for free:
Reports that some games played behind closed doors could be screened free to air have raised fears of problems between the Premier League and its live rights holders, Sky Sports and BT Sport.
Under the terms of its deal, talkSPORT, owned by News UK, the parent company of The Sunday Times, also has rights to air radio coverage of 12.30pm, 3pm and 5.30pm Premier League matches.
This article was edited by Benjamin Newman.