Today, a final meeting was held to discuss Project Restart in more finite detail, including the decision to set an official return date of June 17th that will see Arsenal play Manchester City and Aston Villa play Sheffield United to kick off the return and an August 1 end date.
This decision was far from the only thing discussed, just one day after Premier League clubs unanimously agreed to move forward with ‘phase 2’ of training. Phase 2 will involve strict protocols on how the league intend to curb and monitor “risky sessions”, but what else needs to be decided? Besides everything.
Today’s meeting looked to address:
- Start Date
- Fixture List
- Match Venues
- Broadcast Rebates
- Curtailment Scenarios should Restart falter
The start date of June 17th that will see Arsenal play Manchester City and Aston Villa play Sheffield was selected as an opportunity to get “games in hand” firmly solved. As the 4 teams outstanding with only 28 games played, they are an obvious outlier that makes curtailing the season a little messier.
The original proposed return date was June 12th, but clubs demanded two extra weeks of contact training in order to help with match fitness. While they did not succeed in getting four weeks, a compromise was struck and an additional 3rd week was added.
No fixture list has been released that details the remaining 92 games, but it was announced that all matches will be broadcasted by Sky Sports, BT Sport, BBC Sport and Amazon Prime.
“We will continue to work step-by-step and in consultation with all our stakeholders as we move towards resuming the 2019/20 season.”
“The two matches scheduled for Wednesday, June 17 are the ‘games in hand’ and will bring all teams up to 29 matches played.”
“Another match may take place on Friday, June 19 and the first full round of fixtures will start on Saturday, June 20 with games staggered across the weekend.”
At the very least, it appears as though fans will have the ability to watch as many or as few of the games as they choose due to staggered scheduling. This was initially a concern for some, but great to see a solution like this.
An interesting side note to fixtures – it appears as though some Premier League clubs will be looking to set up friendlies given the extra week in an attempt to help bring back a heightened level of fitness.
While there has been little released so far when it comes to venues, broadcast rebates, or what came of further discussions around season curtailing, it is believed that police have softened their stance on neutral venues with the intent of allowing most games to be played at their intended venue. This may come with some caveats around specific games deemed “big games” that would have the potential of drawing larger than normal crowds still needing to be played at neutral locations but no information around which locations, which games they are talking about, or whether this is confirmed.
More details from the meeting are expected to be released in the near future and I will happily keep you updated. It’s not an easy draw for a return but will give Arsenal and their supporters plenty to think about over the next few weeks.