Celebration cameras and no spitting: Premier League restart rules

Red Zone area of pitch, tunnel and dressing rooms can only be accessed by 110 people

Workmen place signs outside the main entrance to the Etihad Stadium, home of Manchester City. Photo: Martin Rickett/PA Wire

Workmen place signs outside the main entrance to the Etihad Stadium, home of Manchester City. Photo: Martin Rickett/PA Wire

 

Premier League players have been told not to spit, clear their nose or surround match officials when the season restarts, and will be directed towards a “celebration camera” after scoring in closed-doors matches.

Before the return of top-flight football in England on Wednesday, the Premier League has issued official guidelines on how games should be staged, played and broadcast amid the Covid-19 pandemic. It has confirmed players will wear Black Lives Matter and NHS badges on their shirts for the remainder of the 2019-20 campaign and a minute’s silence will be held before the opening 12 matches in recognition of those affected by the virus.

Teams can travel to games via car, coach, plane or train providing physical distancing measures are observed. Players will then head through a “sterile route” in a stadium to expanded dressing rooms, stagger their exits from the tunnel, minimise close contact during warm-ups and will have a maximum of 15 minutes for therapy after a game.

There will be drinks breaks midway through each half with players having to drink from their own water bottles. Only players with a clinical passport – a barcode that is scanned from a phone or print-out confirming their most recent test result was negative – will be allowed access to the Red Zone, the area of a stadium that includes the pitch, technical area, tunnel and dressing rooms. The maximum number of people allowed in a red zone is 110.

The strict protocols for players also include no handshakes, no spitting or nose clearing, no mass confrontations, no surrounding match officials and using hand sanitisers before and after every match. Any medical staff performing physio or soft tissue treatment are required to wear PPE. In the absence of ball assistants, spare balls will be placed around the pitch to prevent delays should one disappear into an empty stand.

A sanitisation station at Villa Park. Photo: Jacob King/PA Wire
A sanitisation station at Villa Park. Photo: Jacob King/PA Wire

The Premier League has also announced several innovations to improve the broadcast from empty stadiums. Crowd noise will not be played inside them, although fans watching at home can activate EA Sports Atmospheric Audio, but clubs can broadcast live video feeds of 16 supporters on big screens during matches. If the situation allows, players will be directed by broadcasters towards a celebration camera after scoring a goal.

Cameras will be placed in tunnels – without sound – and the audio from the coin toss will be broadcast live. VAR and doping tests will continue, albeit with additional rooms being used at Stockley Park to allow for physical distancing, while teams can name nine substitutes instead of the usual seven and use five instead of three. – Guardian

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