A view of a sign at Villa Park stadium, a day ahead of the English Premier League soccer match between Aston Villa and Sheffield United, as the league resumes play after a 100-day pandemic-enforced shutdown at Villa Park. Photo: AP Photo/Rui Vieira
A view of a sign at Villa Park stadium, a day ahead of the English Premier League soccer match between Aston Villa and Sheffield United, as the league resumes play after a 100-day pandemic-enforced shutdown at Villa Park. Photo: AP Photo/Rui Vieira

No fans, no handshakes, no spitting; all change in the Premier League

By Simon Cambers Time of article published Jun 16, 2020

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LONDON - From handshakes to social-distancing during goal celebrations and physios wearing full protective equipment; the Premier League season resumes on Wednesday looking very different to how it was before Covid-19 forced its suspension in March.

The Premier League issued a set of guidelines and restrictions for players and teams ahead of Wednesday's resumption, also including instructions for there to be no spitting or nose-clearing.

Before matches, teams will go out onto the pitch separately and no longer line-up together or shake hands before games.

Hand sanitizers will be used before and after every match, players will drink from their own specific water bottles before and during matches, when each half will have a drinks break halfway through.

Players have been urged to "avoid mass confrontations with opponents or match officials" and to "try to restrict interaction with opponents after the match."

In instructions released on the Premier League website, players were told that they must try to maintain social distancing as they go onto the pitch.

"Trainers' benches will be expanded to enable social-distancing during the match," it said.

"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."

And if a player gets injured, they can expect to be treated in a situation that sounds more like a hospital scene than a football pitch.

"If a player needs treatment on the pitch, any club staff performing physiotherapy or soft-tissue treatment must wear the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE)," the Premier League said.

"A paramedic crew of two people will be in the Red Zone and clubs should name two members of Red Zone staff to act as stretcher bearers."

And while teams can now name nine substitutes and field five in every game, only three from each team will be allowed to warm up on the sidelines at any one time.

After matches, players will be allowed to shower, but only if they can maintain social-distancing. Ice baths "are for individual use only."

Aston Villa host Sheffield United in the first fixture on Wednesday, with Manchester City taking on Arsenal later the same evening.

All matches will be played behind closed doors, with some broadcasters pumping in artificial noise during matches, and some clubs using "virtual fan walls" to add atmosphere.

dpa

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