Re-Start is Great News
Percentage wise, only a small number of players, staff and suppliers are involved in the Premier League taking football as a whole. However, the re-start of the Premier League season, albeit behind closed doors, has got to be good news for everyone involved in the game.
Premier League Clubs have agreed to return to action on June 17, beginning with the two outstanding ‘Matchday 29’ games.
Aston Villa vs Sheffield United - at 6pm - and Manchester City vs Arsenal - at 8pm - will restart the season, bringing all 20 top-flight teams to nine games remaining.
The rest of the season will be played in a linear fashion with no simultaneous games – and excluded fans able to watch every game – with for the first time ever free to air matches on the BBC.
The Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has said the return of the Premier League "would lift the spirits of the nation" and confirmed that a behind-closed-doors return is under "active consideration" by the government.
A YouGov poll released on May 12 revealed that almost three-quarters of people would not be buoyed by the return of elite football, with just 19% "pleased" at the prospect.
But, as the games draw nearer expect that pleased figure to rise.
Detractors might suggest that the Premier League is looking after itself, but it paves the way for the Championship to follow suit in some form, even if it is simply to decide promotion and relegation.
One side effect from the crisis has been the drive to new technology with more and more people getting used to viewing things from their phones, laptops and PCs. If more games at lower levels have to be played behind closed doors or with reduced capacity, new habits may see supporters prepared to watch games remotely. That will at least throw up new potential revenue streams for clubs – it won’t make up for not playing as normal in front of crowds – but the alternative – not playing – doesn’t bear thinking about for the football economy.
Whilst attention focuses on the Premier League and their income streams from media and sponsorship, there are thousands of clubs and businesses that need football to be played.
The Premier League re-start is a green shoot to recovery but there is a long way to go – but all the signs are that the elite in the game recognise the debt they owe to football in general – and in April the Premier League’s decision to offer financial support to both lower league football and the National Health Service was welcomed by most. The Premier League offered £125 million in financial assistance to tiers 2-6 of English Football, stating:
'The league unanimously voted to advance funds of £125 million to the EFL and National League as it is aware of the severe difficulties clubs throughout the football pyramid are suffering at this time.'
It is to be hoped that this support continues over the coming months.