With the 2019/2020 English football season on hold and the majority of the world on house lockdown, it’s becoming more apparent that the dates given by the FA may not be achievable as we’d first hoped.
The dates given for the return of the EPL schedule could be nothing more than optimism at this point. The FA announced the 30th April at the least and the cut-off date for the season has remained unknown.
After a brutal few weeks of high-profile meetings and rescheduled or postponed events involving the FA, UEFA, FIFA and the EFL, the honest opinion throughout these events is still looming; nobody has any incline as to when any sports events will resume, let alone the football league.
Will we see the Premier League return in time for May?
With an average of £3 billion earnt in tax revenue, the government should have a keen interest in attempting to assist the return of top-flight football. The FA have a state that unless the government intervenes, the season restart could be as early as the 30th of April.
This wouldn’t be your “normal” scheduled fixtures, playing behind closed doors with no crowd in attendance is nothing other than a ‘must’ at this point. And it’s not so far out of reach given Aussie Rules football just began their new season which started last week, using a similar approach to health and safety.
Those with high optimism are naturally those who are involved or close to the sport, outsiders and critics have had a slightly different view towards the situation as you’d expect. The practicalities of life such as school, work, travel, and healthcare will all be put before the likes of sports and entertainment.
On Monday night, the United Kingdom was ordered into a lockdown state of emergency by the Prime Minister. Schools across the country are being closed down whilst medical advisors estimate the peak of the virus is still yet to come (June).
So, even with closed-door events and zero attendance fixtures, health and security services will still be required for these games. More specifically, the police or/and security guards. As we’ve witnessed in recent weeks, some fans just don’t know when to stop.
One week feels like one year
What feels like a lifetime, in reality, has been just under two weeks since the postponement of the English Premier League.
When Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta tested positive for the virus all games and fixtures were indefinitely postponed. The problem with this outcome stems over into the resumption of the EPL. If a player or manager were to test positive following the resumed schedule, the idea is that a single match will be postponed or the club involved would have to use players they have available. Whilst this method seems doable, the likelihood doesn’t follow suit. This would again be one of the major reasons to prevent the spread of COVID-19 which may seem to be hypercritical for the UK government to follow through with.
The general health and safety of all the clubs and players involved are paramount, I can envision just one player testing positive in May leading us straight back to where we started.
And, let’s not forget about the actual players. Their opinion is being considered more than most given they’ll be the ones putting their health at risk.
That said, the Professional Footballers’ Association is working closely with relevant staff and remains committed to finishing the 19/20 season. However, none of the above will be put first or above the general health and safety of the nation.
With all aspects taken into consideration, I can’t visualize a period in May where the FA or any football leagues will return to action.
If we take a closer look at other countries involved and their calendar compared to a peak virus outbreak, I’d say the earliest for the EPL to return would be around June/July time, once the number in cases has begun to drop significantly.
Until that moment, we’ll have to enjoy each other’s company, embrace our loved ones and binge-watch highlights on YouTube.