The Premier League is being reported this morning as having developed an extraordinary plan for clubs to play televised games in isolated “World Cup-style” camps.
According to the generally trustworthy Independent it could happen in June and July, in order to try and finish the 2019/20 season.
The ‘paper reports the game’s authorities have discussed it over the weekend, with games “behind closed doors” still seen as the likeliest solution, but the idea of isolated camps is one to which clubs keep returning to. It has gained increasing traction in the last few days.
The report adds: ‘The massive broadcasting contracts and other financial concerns have increased the pressure on clubs to complete the season, but one considerable advantage to the idea is that it would be a “TV mega-event”.
And The Independent claims it has been told that plans have been drawn up to televise all remaining 92 matches, with a handful on every day over the summer months.
In order to complete the plan, clubs and their staffs would be confined to separate hotels away from their families, just like in an international tournament – albeit with full testing and quarantine conditions. The aim is to reduce the risk of contracting Covid-19 as even one case could derail the whole plan.
That is why the idea is for games to take place in June and July, when a much more rigorous testing system is likely to be in place and curve has hopefully been flattened.
The plan has logistical problems as it is not just clubs that would have to be confined to quarantined bases, but also all officials, cameramen and outside broadcast crews.
There also remains the moral issue of having medical officials at what are ultimately “non-essential events”, not to mention potential hospital visits.
It is for this reason that summer is seen as much more viable than May, both logistically and politically. The optimistic view is that the curve will have flattened, but there will also be considerable political backing behind the plan.
A cultural event as big as the Premier League returning would be seen as a big step in the return to normality, as well as a psychological boost to the nation. There is also the competition’s part in getting the economy moving, especially given the size of the TV event the games would be, driving industries from advertising to gambling.
The mood among players is more and more fixed around finishing the season if it can be done behind closed doors.
As regards venues, the plan would almost certainly see fixtures in the midlands and maybe London, but it is possible that training-ground pitches could be used rather than stadiums. St George’s Park has come up in discussions, but is currently discounted.
The current feeling is that “everything is on the table in order to get games played”. This “World Cup base” idea had been mooted when the Premier League was initially postponed at the start of March, but is one that the clubs have kept coming back to, and has been given more shape in the last few days.
It is generally accepted that nothing will get off the ground, however, until testing is more widespread.
ClaretandHugh says: This is probably the most raducal plan we have heard so far. However, there remain so many variables with the deputy chief medical officer claiming that there is likely to be only a slow easing of restrictions dependent on developments, possibly over six months. One can see the moral reasons against giving football special dispensation very easily and the world at large may well ask how players – who after all remain at the same risk as all of us – should be allowed to get into close up challenges and all the rest of it while the world has to stay six feet from each other. Yes, we understand that’s naive assuming all the players have been tested, but in times when there’s little for anyone to do one can hear the outrage from social media. It also gives football an importance it perhaps doesn’t deserve at such a time and will only happen – should that be the case – for financial reasons when the rest of the business world is on its knees.