One month and one day ago, on March 13, the Premier League shut its proverbial doors, put the chain across the gates, and sent everyone home. Like all other non-essential business, football was shut down, suspended, and in rare cases, canceled altogether.
But we may be turning a corner (soon?) in the battle against COVID-19, and that means that slowly we can start actually hoping for football’s (and normal-ish daily life’s) return. Football may be non-essential, but as that wonderful line from Arrigo Sacchi goes, it is the most important of the least important things in life.
And wouldn’t be wonderful to be able to deal with and concern ourselves with least important things in life again?
So when can we start dealing frivolous sideshows, dumbed down coverage, tribalism, and mob mentality?
If the latest reports have it correct, English football’s latest plans have set June 6 as a coronavirus D-Day of sorts, with teams returning to training a few weeks prior, perhaps on May 16, which would be a little over a month from now.
That’s what ESPN are claiming anyway, citing unspecified “sources”. While technically these sources are only talking about EFL plans (i.e. divisions 2-4), the powers that be of English football made it very clear at the start of the break that the EFL, the FA, and the Premier League will work together and present a unified response.
This timeline is similar to the one Dutch football’s working towards (June 19 return), while others are actually further ahead, as in Germany, where socially distanced training is already underway. Meanwhile, UEFA are planning to maybe somehow squeeze in the remaining European games of this season into August.
Of course, all of that is dependent on the progress of the fight against the pandemic and the associated government guidelines, but if football is able to resume in June, we will have had the three-month break that many were expecting at the start of his whole crisis, just as it happened in China.
As to where and how games may be played out is entirely unclear, though the idea of closed doors games remains universally accepted and expected. Wembley and the England national team training facilities have recently been offered up (as per The Times) as potential neutral sites to help finish out the season in isolated tournament-style.