By Bryan Bejarano
The Premier League may back with shorter games. Meanwhile, some teams want to boycott the whole plan for returning to activity.
Last week we reported on the Restart Project. The joint initiative between the Premier League, the English Football League, the Football Association, and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sports to revive soccer in England. This plan proposes to play the 92 pending matches of the 2019-2020 season in June in stadiums without public and with strict medical protocols.
New information has emerged this week about the Restart Project, and some new proposals are being discussed to make the Restart Project run smoothly. The president of the Association of Professional Footballers of England, Gordon Taylor, referred to the subject recently. One of the comments that most caught everyone’s attention is that the possibility that the matches will be shorter is being analyzed. Taylor’s words were: “We do not know the future, but we do know what proposals have been presented, what ideas have been presented: the possibility of having more substitutions, the games may not be with 45 full minutes per part, and they could also be in neutral stadiums.”
The possibility of having shorter matches in one of the most competitive leagues in the world has sparked mixed reactions. Some think that this could make matches more interesting since players will be able to give their maximum performance from the start without worrying about reserving energy to last 90 minutes. Others think that this will make games boring and lose the speed and strength that characterize English soccer.
This proposal to play shorter games is still not final. Taylor said that they will consult with the coaches, players, and managers of the teams to know their position in this regard.
Detractors and Boycott
Even though all the entities of English soccer work together to find the fastest, safest, and most effective way to return to activity. Some people don’t agree with the proposals.
One of the detractors that have had the most media coverage has been Sergio Agüero. The Manchester City player, recently declared that the players are afraid to return to the fields, “Most of the players are afraid because they have family,” stated Agüero.
Agüero is not the only one who opposes returning to the fields at this time. Scott Duxbury, chief executive of Watford, has also expressed his discontent with the initiatives and thinks that other issues should be given priority and not soccer at this time.
According to the Mirror, Watford will also try to boycott the Restart Project along with Aston Villa, Bournemouth, Brighton, Norwich, and West Ham. All of these teams are in the relegation zone of the table. They argue that playing without an audience and in neutral stadiums will affect their aspirations to stay in the Premier League. In the Premier League, playing at home and having the support of fans can make a difference for a team.
Despite having so many detractors, Gordon Taylor confirmed that the Premier League will return to business in mid-June. In the coming weeks, they will hold meetings to fine-tune the details of the plan. In Taylor’s words: “After the meeting, the protocol should be finalized, and next week it will be delivered to players and coaches. Everyone will need time to assimilate it. Safety comes first, and club doctors and government specialists have been involved in this protocol.”
It seems that we will have Premier League activity in June, but with all these changes, I doubt very much that it is the soccer we are used to and love. In any case, it will be nice to see the ball roll again in England.