Fans of the Premier League and Championship will be able to watch almost all of the remaining 200 matches in England’s top two divisions as football seeks to emerge from the COVID-19 crisis.
According to The Times, the league’s scheduling officials and their broadcast partners are aiming to ensure that as many fixtures as possible are given individual, staggered kick-off times to allow supporters to watch them live on TV without clashes.
With all remaining games in the 2019/20 season set to be played behind closed doors, the proposal would allow people to see almost every minute of their team in action.
Project Restart has hurdles to overcome
The plan is among many being considered under Project Restart, however, like the return of football itself, everything hinges on receiving government approval, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson set to address the nation on the situation on Sunday.
A day later, the Premier League will convene via video link for a shareholders meeting where key decisions are expected to be made for football’s planned return in June.
One of the biggest points of contention among the league’s 20 clubs so far is the issue of playing at neutral venues, with several dissenting voices already expressing a reluctance to give up home advantage ahead of key games in the run in.
It could also prove difficult to convince individual players and members of staff that it is safe to return amid the ongoing health crisis, and already, several high-profile stars including Man City’s Sergio Aguero have voiced concerns about the risks involved in a return to play.
If the Premier League’s ambitious plans to complete the 2019/20 campaign go ahead, the widely-reported “festival of football” could be an incredibly dramatic climax to the season.
With daily schedules packed with back-to-back games, supporters won’t be short of live action to consume, and there is still plenty to play for at both ends of the Premier League and the Championship.
Rumours suggesting that the Premier League were open to screening fixtures on free-to-air TV look at this stage at least to be unfounded however, and it’s much likelier that the usual premium broadcasters Sky Sports, BT Sport and Amazon would be given the rights to the games.
Sky Sports, who hold the rights to the EFL , will screen the live Championship matches, though the league’s streaming service, iFollow, is also likely to be utilised, with EFL chief Rick Parry confirming the same in a recent address to government officials.
State of play in the Premier League
While the delay to Liverpool’s inevitable title win has been making the most headlines since the Premier League’s enforced stoppage, the Reds’ imminent triumph is such a foregone conclusion that it will provide little drama.
Just below them, Manchester City and Leicester look to have their places in the top four locked down, though fourth spot is still up for grabs with just five points separating Chelsea, Man Utd, Wolves and Sheffield United in positions fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh respectively.
In the table’s midsection, Tottenham, Arsenal, Burnley, Crystal Palace and Everton will all be targeting a top half finish, though each combatant has plenty of work to do to secure a slot in the Premier League’s ultra-competitive top 10.
At the bottom of the table, Norwich City prop up the rest, though the six-point gap between the Canaries and safety is far from unassailable.
Second from bottom Aston Villa and Bournemouth just ahead of them will have ample opportunity to save their skins before the seasons ends, with Watford, West Ham and Brighton all still firmly in the relegation mix.
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