Project Restart: No Ball Boys, Clinical Passports & BLM as Premier League Clubs Vote on Rule Changes
Premier League clubs are reported to have voted through an extensive list of rule modifications, in one of the final steps towards English football returning next week.
Discussions have been ongoing for months over how to safely resume football in England, with the coronavirus pandemic going nowhere any time soon.
But while it once seemed an impossibility that the 2019/20 season would resume at all, the financial implications of curtailing the campaign on top-flight clubs proved too grim, and it was announced late last month that the Premier League would return on 17 June.
When Aston Villa and Sheffield United kick us off on Wednesday, however, it won't quite be the same as we remember it. Stadiums will be closed to fans with only artificial crowd noise creating the atmosphere for those at home, while five substitutions - as opposed to the usual three - will be permitted in order to help manage player fitness.
The changes don't stop there, however, far from it. As reported by The Telegraph, the league has tabled a detailed list of alterations in order to keep players and staff safe, which has been unanimously voted through by Premier League clubs.
Just a few of those changes will see ball boys replaced with a system of sterilised match balls placed on cones surrounding the pitch, while players will have to sanitise their hands before and after entering the field of play.
Stadiums will be limited to an average of 300 people in attendance, although movement within the arenas will be strictly regimented. Only 105 people at a time will be permitted to enter the 'red' zone; which covers the pitch, technical area, tunnel and changing rooms.
Any individual entering those areas will have a 'clinical passport' downloaded onto their phone, which will indicate upon barcode scanning that they have been tested for coronavirus in the last ten days.
Meanwhile, the first round of fixtures will see players wear 'Black Lives Matter' in lieu of their names on the back of their shirts, in solidarity with George Floyd and the countless other victims of systemic racism in the US and beyond.
For more from Robbie Copeland, follow him on Twitter!