UEFA have cleared the way for football in Europe to resume and finish by June 30, and all stakeholders have committed to that deadline, but the question of how the various leagues might be able to actually accomplish that remains unanswered.
Practically all of Europe is under some form of a lockdown or self-isolation, and public contact is highly discouraged beyond what is absolutely necessary. Sport, as important to us as it may be, is certainly not absolutely necessary. Even if football were able to resume by early May, there’s a good chance that packing together tens of thousands of fans in stadiums will continue to be discouraged or disallowed. The prospect of closed doors matches remains a quite realistic one.
In fact, that is precisely what The Sun have come up with, citing a “section of Premier League clubs”. Normally, we’d continue ignoring The Sun as usual, but this plan actually seems reasonable, feasible, and could very well become our reality soon. Or at least something close to it.
The idea would be to pick three “neutral” venues, probably in the Midlands, and play out the remaining 92 matches as basically a tournament, with teams playing twice a week. In theory, that should allow the Premier League to finish out in less than 5 weeks (since teams have either 9 or 10 games left at this point), leaving just enough room for the FA Cup and European competitions to finish as well — though it’s unclear how (or if) Chelsea for example would be able to fit in all three of those competitions even if we could start playing in May again.
By making it a tournament, teams (presumably all of whom would be COVID-19-free) would not be required to travel all over the country, and it would limit the exposure of stadium support staff, local support staff (police, medical, etc), and most importantly, fans.
This certainly all sounds quite radical, but dare I say, does make some sense. As much as it would be weird to not have Chelsea play home games at Stamford Bridge for the first time in our history (I think?), these are unprecedented times. And that calls for unprecedented action.
The report claims that this proposal will be presented in tomorrow’s “crunch Premier League meeting”.