Illustrations by Hannah Robinson
It is without question that football is thoroughly missed during these unprecedented times. The balls crashing into the net, the silky footwork from talented individuals and the roaring atmosphere has been replaced with soullessness and emptiness across major footballing nations. However, the Premier League wants the beautiful game to return. Via Project Restart, they hope to finish the remaining 92 matches in style and to lift the spirits of this great nation. But at what cost? The possibility for football’s return will make a mockery of the game.
The Premier League is being held at gunpoint by the broadcasting tyrants, while the footballing association claims that recommencing the season is good for the fans, the players, and the clubs. If the Premier League does not finish their season, they will have to repay £762 million to their broadcasting partners. This is despite broadcast companies such as Sky and BT being multi-billion-pound companies. Playing football behind closed doors will be a bitter pill to swallow. The community aspect will be lost, and some clubs will struggle to keep afloat. This is because clubs who are in lower league positions or in lower leagues rely heavily on fans, not TV advertising. Without fans, there is less revenue for these clubs. Even with matchday earnings being a sliver of earnings for the Premier League, trying to replace £677 million in matchday revenue will be difficult.
Some of the players don’t even want to play. Many of them are worried that they will contract the virus. Six players across three clubs have been tested positive for COVID-19, and there is a risk for more players to contract the virus. On top that, ethnic minorities are more likely to contract the disease. The Premier League is gambling on the health of the players, the managers and the officials for the sake of finishing off a season.
Football is a contact sport with tackles flying everywhere, balls being picked up by players and celebratory togetherness occurring when a team score. While this happens, people continue to social distance, businesses remain shut, and the National Health Service continues to deal with cases. What is the point in having these regulations when a contact sport like football is going ahead?
Testing will be made available for players and staff, and they will be tested twice a week. The Premier League is once again morally bankrupt. There is a worldwide shortage of testing kits, but the Premier League thinks these tests should be used for healthy, glamorised, and overpaid footballing stars? While this happens, hardworking and low-paid essential workers are unable to be receive the test they so desperately need. There is no question about who really need these tests.
When the Bundesliga returned on 16th May, many questioned this decision. 62% of people wanted the season cancelled, whereas only 27% of people agreed that the season should be finished without fans. So much for lifting the spirits of Germany.
Project Restart is not raising the souls of England; it is doing the opposite. The plan brings mockery to the sport while satisfying multi-billion-pound companies. When money enters the frame, the fans, the players and most importantly, health is left on the substitutes bench.