What is Project Restart?
It’s the nickname being given to the Premier League’s attempts to resume the season that was interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic on 13 March. No matches have been played since the Arsenal head coach, Mikel Arteta, tested positive for Covid-19 and on 3 April action was suspended indefinitely until further notice. Clubs and stakeholders have since held regular meetings in an attempt to find a solution and will do so again on Friday to discuss the latest plans, which are thought to involve restarting games on the weekend of 13 June – subject to government approval.
How will the Premier League’s plan work?
The shareholders’ meeting will hear more details on a proposal that was first raised by the Premier League at its last summit, on 17 April. That would involve all 92 remaining matches being played over a six-week period at “approved stadiums” in what has been described as a “festival of football”. Some of the games would potentially be shown on terrestrial television, while a three-week pre-season has also been proposed to allow players time to prepare. Players from Arsenal, Brighton, West Ham and Tottenham have already returned to their respective training grounds, albeit observing strict social distancing guidelines.
Will it be safe?
Everything will depend on clubs being able to create a “return to play” protocol that is approved by the government and its heath advisers. That is thought to include plans for players and officials being placed in lockdown at nominated hotels for up to six weeks. Each one would then travel to the stadium along a “sterile route” from the hotel before being tested. Every venue would also have strict limits on the number of people allowed to be present; some estimate that a minimum of 300 including officials, staff and media would be required at every game.