According to a report this morning from the Times, the Premier League are just hours away from confirming the decision to play (the rest of the season?) behind closed doors.
This would be in line with expectations from earlier this week, as well with developments elsewhere in Europe and around the world when it comes to public gatherings or large-scale (1000+ attendees) events. By and large, such events are being canceled (Coachella, SxSW, some sporting events) or held without a live audience (many football games, television tapings, etc.).
While the worldwide TV audience wouldn’t see much change other than the weirdness of empty stands, for UK broadcasts, a Premier League streaming service is apparently being set up that will only be available to season-ticket holders and those with tickets to individual matches already. That sounds like a giant mess when the easy thing would be to just stream or broadcast all games (including those at 3pm — it’s not like they have a stadium experience to protect now!), but that apparently won’t be happening.
• Premier League season-ticket holders and ticket holders will be able to stream coverage of matches— Times Sport (@TimesSport) March 12, 2020
• No games will be shown in pubs so as to avoid congregation of people
• Premier League games will not be shown live in the 3pm slot on Saturday afternoons
Meanwhile, Juventus defender Daniele Rugani has become the first high-profile footballer to test positive for COVID-19. It’s unclear what wide-ranging repercussions this may have at the moment — i.e. will the Champions League have to be postponed or canceled while all participants quarantine themselves? Inter Milan have already put themselves into quarantine as a result of last weekend’s derby match against Juve, for example.
The situation is escalating across the pond, too, where a Utah Jazz played tested positive ahead of Wednesday night’s game against Oklahoma City Thunder. The NBA have swiftly acted to suspend the season indefinitely. They could be the first big domino to fall in the US sports scene, with the NHL, MLS, and MLB likely to follow soon. The NCAA have already confirmed that March Madness will be played in empty stadiums.
NBA To Suspend Season Following Tonight's Games pic.twitter.com/2PTx2fkLlW— NBA (@NBA) March 12, 2020
In somewhat more amusing news, Liverpool crashed out of the Champions League last night after yet another Diego Simeone-engineered masterclass from Atlético Madrid. Even Álvaro Morata, technically still just a Chelsea loanee, scored in the 3-2 win at Anfield (4-2 on aggregate)!