Premier League 'Project Restart': Everything you need to know

The Premier League will be returning to screens on Wednesday following the suspension of all major sports in the UK owing to the coronavirus pandemic.

However, a lot has changed since fans last enjoyed top-flight English football in early March.

Here’s what you need to know:

Premier League return

Clubs will return to action from June 17, starting with two outstanding matchday 29 games.

Aston Villa vs Sheffield United kicks-off at 6pm and followed by Manchester City vs Arsenal at 8pm, which will bring all 20 top-flight teams to nine games remaining.

All games will be played behind closed doors and to maximise exposure, no two matches will be played simultaneously, apart from the last game of the season, so that football fans won’t have to miss out on any of the action.

The final round of the Premier League season is scheduled for July 26 with all games kicking-off at 3pm.

Wolverhampton Wanderers will be hoping to secure a place in Europe this season. Credit: PA

What will the coverage be like?

All of the 92 remaining fixtures will be broadcast live on television.

The majority of fixtures will be show on either Sky Sports or BT Sports but for the first time in the Premier League era, BBC will broadcast four games.

Amazon Prime is also airing four games for free, without the need for a subscription.

For the full list of fixtures and where they will be televised, click here.

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta returns to Manchester City for the first time since leaving the club in 2019. Credit: PA

What’s changed?

No fans will be allowed inside grounds as to social distancing measures are still in place in the UK.

However, clubs are giving supporters the chance to appear on a live video fan wall which will be streamed into stadiums as part of the resumption of the league.

Other moves include a club-specific wrap around each stadium's lower tiers, the use of music at key moments, and a designated 'celebration cam' for players to share their goalscoring exploits.

  • Goals will now be followed by piped in crowd noise

The live video feeds, each of which will feature 16 supporters from each club, will be made available to broadcasters and to clubs for use on big screens during matches.

Tottenham were among the clubs to respond swiftly, confirming the video wall would be in place in time for their top-flight resumption against Manchester United on Friday night.

The Premier League's 'Season 2019/20 Restart Guide' also confirmed fans would have access to live tunnel cameras, although these will be without audio, while audio from the coin toss will be captured live.

It’s unclear when fans will be allowed back into stadiums again but behind-closed-doors games look like they are here to stay for a while.

Scenes of packed streets and stadiums ahead of a matchday are a thing of the past for now. Credit: PA

How have we got to this position?

Premier League chiefs have been adamant at restarting, despite some opposition from teams towards the bottom of the table, partly due to the hundreds of millions of pounds at stake from broadcasters.

Germany’s Bundesliga was the first major European league to restart behind closed doors, which has now been followed by Spain’s La Liga and Italy’s Serie A.

However, not all leagues have been given the go-ahead, with France’s Ligue 1 and the Netherlands’ Eredivisie calling off their leagues.

Matches in Germany have been taking place behind closed doors. Credit: PA

Premier League players and coaching staff have been routinely tested to ensure player safety ahead of the league’s resumption, with the first round of testing carried out on May 17-18.

In the most recent round of testing, an unnamed Norwich player was among two individuals out of 1,200 tests who tested positive for Covid-19 on Friday.

Norwich confirmed the positive test on Saturday, which came after they had played a friendly against Tottenham the day before. Spurs said none of their players would need to isolate because they were not “close contacts” of the affected player - who has since tested negative, say the Canaries.

Testing on referees and their assistants was first carried out in the second week of June with the use of home testing kits. They are to be tested twice a week in line with top-flight clubs.

What’s at stake?

Runaway league leaders Liverpool are the overwhelming favourites to secure their first ever Premier League title.

The Merseyside club, 25 points ahead of nearest rivals Manchester City, need a maximum of six points to win the league.

If Arsenal beat Manchester City in the 8pm kickoff tomorrow, Liverpool could win the title in their first game back against city rivals Everton.

While the league title is virtually a foregone conclusion, the hunt for Champions League football and fight against relegation could prove where the real excitement is.

Leicester City, with 53 points, and Chelsea, with 48, currently occupy the covered third and fourth positions with which would assure them of Champions League football. Manchester United are hot on their heels in fifth with 48 points.

Liverpool's derby match against Everton will take place behind closed doors at Goodison Park. Credit: PA

Although Wolves and Sheffield United are also within touching distance. And with Manchester City’s possible Champions League ban looming, it could soon open up fifth spot for top-tier European football.

At the wrong end of the table are Norwich City, Aston Villa and Bournemouth who currently occupy the three relegation spots.

Norwich, with 21 points, are rooted to the bottom and appear cut adrift from the rest. Villa, on 25 points, will harbour hopes of climbing up the table.

Bournemouth currently sit in the bottom three due to goal difference and have the same number of points as Watford in 17th and West Ham in 16th.

Brighton aren’t out of trouble yet but have a two-point cushion with 29 points.

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