The 2019/20 Premier League season returns to our screens this week, with matches taking place behind closed doors (BCD), provided all safety requirements are in place.
We’ve highlighted some key points below. For more information, visit the Premier League website or download their Restart Guide.
Before the match
- In total, about 300 will be allowed at stadiums for each match until the end of the season. In line with the Return to Training Protocol, players and staff are required to still undergo daily screening.
- Teams can travel to the stadium via car, coach, plane or train, but must do so in sterile environments. In all of these transport modes, they must apply social distancing, with appropriate space between occupied seats and full hygiene measures observed.
- In line with Government legislations, hotels should be for essential use only. If hotels are used, risk assessment and mitigating measures should be applied.
- The dressing rooms for teams and match officials must have enough space to allow for suitable social-distancing. This may mean additional rooms are used.
- At some stadiums, teams will use different tunnels. Where there is one tunnel, players and match officials will stagger their journeys to and from the pitch before, during and after a match.
- People other than players and coaching staff on team benches must wear face coverings, although this will be waived at certain times for broadcast presenters and commentators, while observing social-distancing guidelines.
During the match
- When they line up for the Premier League anthem, rather than form a straight line as before, players will now stand in a staggered formation. The traditional handshakes between the two teams will no longer happen and there will also be no handshakes at the coin toss.
- Trainers’ benches will be expanded to enable social-distancing during the match.
- There are no ball assistants in behind-closed-doors matches, so if a match ball goes into the stands, the referee will decide if the ball can be retrieved without a noticeable delay. If not, the referee will allow players to use spare balls placed around the pitch.
- The referee will signal for drinks breaks to be taken midway through each half. The breaks should last no longer than a minute, with players drinking from their own bottles. The time taken for the break will be added to the end of the half.
- Managers can make use of five substitutes during a match, instead of three, in line with the temporary law amendment made by the International Football Association Board.
- Teams can also have nine players on the bench rather than seven. But, one manager can make substitutions on only three occasions during a match, not including those made at half-time. Only three substitutes from one team are allowed to warm up at one time.
- Video Assistant Referees (VAR) will continue to be in operation for matches, with the configuration of the VAR Hub at IMG Studios, Stockley Park, changed to allow for social-distancing.
- Maintaining distance during goal celebrations, using their own water bottles and no spitting or nose-clearing are among the guidelines given to players and staff to reduce risk and maximise personal safety.
After the match
- After the final whistle, players should seek to restrict their interaction with opponents. Players can use the showers but must maintain social-distancing, while any ice baths are for individual use only.
- With bigger squads and a high number of matches in a short period of time following the restart, the value of warm-downs in clubs’ fitness programmes is greater. These should last no more than 25 minutes and are likely to be staggered for each team.
- All post-match broadcast interviews must take place pitchside with social-distancing followed at all times. Post-match press conferences with managers will be conducted virtually.
- Anti-doping tests will still be in operation, with social-distancing observed.
- At all 20 Premier League stadiums, there will be a wrap covering seats in the lower tiers. These stadium wraps will be designed by each club and will aim to improve the environment both visually and acoustically.
- For the first time, fans can listen in to the coin toss featuring the two captains and the match officials, as the audio will now be captured live.
- Clubs can use music at key trigger moments such as kick-off, goals and substitutions by the home club, but not while the ball is in play.
- Fans watching from home will be able to enhance their viewing experience by selecting EA SPORTS Atmospheric Audio. This will give them crowd noise during the match recorded for EA from the teams’ fans in previous live matches. This crowd noise will not be heard by the players, as it will not be featured inside the stadium.
- At many matches there will be the chance for players to be connected to the fans, as live video feeds featuring 16 supporters from each club will be made available to broadcasters and to clubs for use on big screens. Players will be able to see all the range of emotions their supporters go through during the match.
- Where feasible at stadiums, broadcasters will identify a celebration camera that players can head to after scoring so they can share their joy with the millions of fans watching around the world.
- In the build-up to matches, supporters will get to see what happens in the tunnel (or tunnels at certain stadiums) as there will be fixed cameras in place there to watch the players prepare for the match. However, these feeds will not include sound.
- As a show of recognition for the incredible work of National Health Service workers during the COVID-19 crisis in the UK, an NHS badge will feature on the shirts of players and match officials for the rest of the 2019/20 season.
- Before each of the opening 12 matches of the Premier League a moment’s silence will be held to recognise those whose lives have been affected by COVID-19.
- Also for the first 12 matches of the resumed campaign, all player names on the back of shirts will be replaced by "Black Lives Matter" in support of a request by players from all 20 clubs. A "Black Lives Matter" sleeve patch will also feature on shirts for the rest of the season.
- To reflect how the Premier League, clubs, fans and players have come together to support the NHS, their communities and society as a whole during the pandemic, "We Are One Team" will feature on a patch on the matchballs and on Premier League branding in stadiums.