As some leagues trend towards reopening — the Bundesliga might be back in a couple weeks! — but others trend the opposite direction — the Eredivisie became the first league to officially cancel the 2019-20 season on Friday — the Premier League remains very much in limbo. And it looks like it’s going to stay that way for some time yet.
While certain tabloids are hawking headlines about football being back “within weeks”, the reality is not nearly as promising at the moment.
Even in Germany, where the robustness of the healthcare system and abundant testing supply have allowed football to even start thinking about restarting the season, their plans are hardly without criticism or concern about the logistics of contact sports in a socially distanced world. The Bundesliga may claim they’re ready, but their approval from the relevant authorities (i.e. the federal government and the health experts) to go ahead is far from a certainty.
Many leagues are understandably keeping a keen eye on the developments there, including the Premier League, who apparently are working hand-in-hand with other sports to try to come up with a workable plan. Codenamed “Project Restart”, the plan aims to come up with specific guidelines and conditions for restarting the season, just as they had in Germany, including specific venues to be used and methodologies to keep the spread of the disease manageable.
As before, most of the plan will depend on the progress of the nation’s efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and, critically, the availability of abundant resources both in terms of manpower and testing supplies so as to not affect that primary effort by adding even more burden onto the system.
Whether that is even a realistic goal in the UK at this point is debatable, but it never hurts to plan, especially as it’s still too early to make any drastic and final decisions one way or another.
Nothing will go ahead without government approval of course, even if some of the powers that be see football (and sports in general) as a way to “boost the nation’s morale”.
And so we wait...