Premier League football returns to the light to give fans a huge boost.. 100 days after blackout – The Sun
AND then there was light.
After months of darkness — true, pitch blackness, far beyond the realms of football’s glorious trivialities — we have a return date for the Premier League.
⚠️ Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates
When England’s top flight reboots on Wednesday, June 17, it will have been exactly 100 days since the last Premier League match.
Back then, Leicester kick-started their faltering Champions League bid with a 4-0 thumping of relegation-threatened Aston Villa, 22-year-old Harvey Barnes scoring the competition’s most recent goal.
The shadows were lengthening on that Monday night, March 9, at the King Power.
We were expecting football to be behind-closed-doors from the following weekend, yet we had little idea of the unprecedented lockdown which was almost upon us.
Liverpool supporters have waited for the end of the sporting blackout more keenly than most — as their club stood tantalisingly close to a first title in 30 years.
There will be some dismay at the fact Jurgen Klopp’s men must play at neutral grounds, at least until the title is won.
But the Reds are home and hosed anyway, and the restart of Germany’s Bundesliga has indicated that home advantage means nothing without fans, so there should be no griping about a lack of sporting integrity.
Liverpool will get the title they fully deserve, even if the party is not all it should have been.
Premier League clubs took bold and decisive action in approving this restart date and with all the remaining 92 matches televised live — almost a third on free-to-air television — there is no reason for fans to congregate around empty stadiums.
Since March, most of us have forgotten all about such issues as European qualification and the battle to avoid the drop.
When the top flight kicks off again in 19 days’ time, there will be a minute’s silence to remember the tens of thousands who have died in this pandemic.
That evening, Villa have a home match against Sheffield United, while current champions Manchester City will face Arsenal.
City manager Pep Guardiola lost his mother to coronavirus early last month, while it was Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta’s positive test for the disease which brought the shutters down on English football on March 13.
So there will be no celebratory mood, just a sigh of relief that the worst is behind us and we can begin to enjoy sport’s beautiful distractions once more.
Of course, there will be no supporters on lift-off night.
The joy of going to the match is likely to remain on hold for at least the rest of this calendar year.
But the opportunity to tune in to watch — and indeed to gorge on ten live Premier League matches for the following few weekends, with kick-off times staggered to satisfy the game’s TV paymasters — will show us that normality is gradually returning after this miserable spring.
Prem's new kick-off times
- MONDAY: 8pm
- TUESDAY: 6pm, 8pm
- WEDNESDAY: 6pm, 8pm
- THURSDAY: 6pm, 8pm
- FRIDAY: 8pm
- SATURDAY: 12.30pm, 3pm, 5.30pm, 8pm
- SUNDAY: 12pm, 2pm, 4.30pm, 7pm
Football is one of life’s simple pleasures, like a pint at the local or a hug from your mum — once taken for granted but fully appreciated once they return.
There had been little unity in English football during lockdown.
Plenty of self-interested squabbling, PR disasters over clubs claiming furlough money, rows over pay cuts and a few idiotic breaches from players.
But Premier League clubs showed willing on yesterday’s conference call and set a date for Project Restart to become reality.
They have been buoyed by the Bundesliga’s successful resumption, as well as mercifully low levels of positive tests from top-flight players and staff over these past ten days.
Before yesterday’s meeting, it looked likely we would have to wait until June 26 — leaving the prospect of fixture congestion.
So this announcement means players may not feel entirely match-fit when the action resumes but it also eases congestion fears and allows the FA Cup to be played to a conclusion, with a Wembley final on August 1.
CORONAVIRUS CRISIS – STAY IN THE KNOW
Don't miss the latest news and figures – and essential advice for you and your family.
To receive The Sun's Coronavirus newsletter in your inbox every tea time, sign up here.
To follow us on Facebook, simply 'Like' our Coronavirus page.
Get Britain's best-selling newspaper delivered to your smartphone or tablet each day – find out more.
Spain’s LaLiga, the Premier League’s great rival in the race for global TV revenue, has just parked its tanks on England’s lawns by agreeing to show 32 successive days of live football on Sky from June 11 — a move which will have only hastened the need for our clubs to get going again.
Now we can finally start anticipating the English season’s conclusion.
Should City lose on lift-off night, then Liverpool can win the title in their first match — the derby with Everton that weekend of June 20-21.
If not, then they will probably be crowned champs by beating Crystal Palace the following weekend.
Villa can immediately lift themselves out of the bottom three by defeating the Blades, who would go fifth — and boost their chances of an extraordinary Champions League qualification — if they win.
Then the first full weekend will bring us a Champions League six-pointer between Tottenham, with a refreshed Harry Kane, against Manchester United, who were flying before lockdown.
Now, more than ever, we know that none of this really matters.
But what is life without a little light relief?
And what could lighten the mood more than this beautiful, trivial, game?
Source: Read Full Article