After a 100-day break due to the coronavirus pandemic, football will be returning to our screens tonight, kicking off with Aston Villa v Sheffield United.
The Premier League agreed it was safe to resume games with the correct safety measures in place, as the number of new infections is falling and lockdown restrictions are gradually eased. The UK government also gave the go-ahead for elite competitive sport to resume behind closed doors from 1st June.
Tonight’s will be the first of 92 live league games packed into a 40-day window, with the season coming to a close on 26th July. Games will take place with no fans in attendance to prevent the spread of the virus, meaning players will be performing for deserted stands.
Wearing heart-shaped badges on their kit in tribute to frontline NHS staff, a minute’s silence will also be held before the first match, in honour of all the lives lost due to the pandemic.
Players’ t-shirts will also be different for the first 12 matches, as names on their back will be replaced with ‘Black Lives’ Matter, following the death of George Floyd in the United States.
In preparation for the games, Premier League players and staff have gone through eight rounds of twice-weekly coronavirus screenings, with 16 positive results found from 8,687 tests. These tests will stay in place, twice a week, and any players or staff who tests positive will self-isolate for seven days.
All 92 games will be broadcast live, with four matches available to watch on the BBC – the first time the games have been free on terrestrial television since the Premier League’s inception in 1992. The first will be Bournemouth v Crystal Palace on Saturday.