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Premier League sets 20/21 season start date - Pressure builds to restart

27 mei 2020

The Premier League has been reported to be set to announce to clubs that the 2020/21 season will begin the weekend of September 12th and 13th. Solidifying the start date for next season now adds pressure to the league to honor its commitment to finish out the remaining 92 fixtures. League officials have shown they have little patience for continued delays, but there exists no consensus regarding the season restart and the protocols that should be followed. 

Sources have disclosed that it is unlikely that the league will resume on June 12th, as it was originally intended. Rather, at the demands of both players and health officials, resumption will be pushed back at least one week if not two, landing the new date on either June 19th or 26th. Player conditioning is cited as a primary factor, with clubs wanting at least three weeks of full-contact competitive training prior to reentering league play in order to prevent injury. 

In the UK government’s online statement regarding Phase Two of the restart it was stated, “Close contact training is required to replicate match formations and conditions, so that the sport-specific demands can be placed on the body, mind and senses.”

Returning to training has been the source of significant controversy, with several players refusing to take part, most notably Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante. It remains unclear how the league will handle certain situations of positive coronavirus tests. Preventing infection in addition to managing the logistics of self-isolation in the event of positive testing are at the forefront of the restart discussion. One measure already implemented by Liverpool is the home delivery of food to players to ensure they do not need to leave their homes and become unnecessarily exposed. 

Once competitions do resume, the intention is to kick off the restart with a derby between Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur. In the most optimistic views, if all goes according to plan the season should be completed by the end of July. Bringing the current fixtures to a close would be essential to making space for the completion of the Champions League and Europa League for competing English clubs. While no resumption date has yet been set, the UEFA are actively striving for August 26th and 29th for the finals. 

Image: Nu.nl