In the midst of the novel coronavirus pandemic, the English Premier League (EPL) has taken into consideration a plan to have isolated camps in order to name a champion for the 2019/20 season.
The developing plan includes the clubs playing televised games in isolated ‘World Cup-style’ camps. They will be set in the midlands and London from June to July for the continuation of the remaining games for the season.
Fixtures are mostly seen to be held in the midlands as well as the possibility of a London venue. However, it is also likely that training-ground pitches can be used for the venues rather than stadiums. Further planning are still in discussion with St George’s Park thrown in the talks, but is currently discounted.
Games played behind closed doors remains to be the most doable idea that football authorities have formulated but the clubs seem to be more partial with the isolated camps idea. Over the last few days, the proposed solution has gained traction that continues to increase.
Moreover, the idea poses an advantage for the clubs which are greatly pressured to end the season due to huge broadcasting contracts and other financial concerns. It is deemed that it can become a ‘TV mega-event’ which will televise all remaining 92 matches over the course of summer.
It has also gained the support of the government as well. Authorities liked the idea of the public engaged in the national sport in this difficult time, especially if the lockdown measures are likely tightened or extended.
Discussions on how to execute the plan include the accommodation of the players and other people involved. They will need to be away from their families in separate hotels with full testing and quarantine conditions.
The league aims to minimise the risk of contracting COVID-19 in its community. This is because even a single case can derail the plan and ultimately halt the competition. However, the plan is also faced with logistical problems since all officials, cameramen and outside broadcast crews should also be taken into account.
A moral issue is also raised which debates on having medical officials at what is deemed to be ‘non-essential events’, not to mention potential hospital visits.
‘Where does a player who does his cruciate or breaks his leg go after he’s stretchered off?’ a perspective was asked in regards to the plans. ‘Hospitals will have much bigger concerns. The Premier League would almost have to have a private hospital blocked off’.
Therefore, logistically and politically speaking, summer is seen as the most viable time to resume the games rather than hold them in May. It is for the optimistic view that the curve will have flattened by this time. However, considerable political backing behind the plan will also be needed.