A number of new measures have been put in place to ensure stadiums are safe ahead of the Premier League’s return
The Premier League have released a guide for supporters outlining what a matchday will look like when top-flight football returns on Wednesday.
Aston Villa take on Sheffield United at Villa Park in the first game back before Manchester City face Arsenal at the Etihad just hours later.
While United will kick-off their campaign a few days later away at Tottenham as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side look to maintain their bid for a top-four finish.
However, all games will take place behind closed doors and a number of safety measures have been put in place due to the current coronavirus pandemic.
And below is a look at the measures that have been put in place and what fans can expect to see when watching their side in action.
Although most clubs in the top-flight operate with a high number of staff on a matchday, the Premier League is hoping that only essential staff will be present for games.
Only 37 ‘Red Zone’ passes will be made available per team, with that expected to be made up of 20 players, 12 coaching and medical staff and a further five essential staff.
In total there will be 300 people in attendance for games, including media, doping officials and scouts, with an ‘Amber Zone’ and ‘Green Zone’ also in operation.
“Only people who have had tests in the five days before a match can enter. The zone includes the pitch, the technical area, the tunnel and the dressing rooms,” the Premier League said on the Red Zone.
“These people must have a “clinical passport”, a barcode either as a print-out or on their phone. This is scanned to check their most recent test result is negative before they can enter the stadium .The maximum number of people allowed in this zone is 110.”
Before adding on the Amber Zone: “This covers all areas of the inside of the stadium with the exception of the Red Zone. It includes stands, concourses and pitchside interview areas.
“Entry and exit points are strictly managed and, to gain access, individuals must have completed a medical questionnaire, as well as having their temperature checked on arrival.”
“This is the area outside the stadium, where access control points, vehicle parking and outside broadcast compounds and units are located,” the guide read on the Green Zone.
Travelling to stadiums
Players and staff from clubs will still be required to still undergo daily screening, and before leaving for a match, they must complete relevant checks for COVID-19 and report any symptoms.
Sides will have the option to travel to the stadium via car, coach, plane or train, but must do so in sterile environments.
In all of these transport modes, they must apply social distancing, with appropriate space between occupied seats and full hygiene measures observed, while those players or staff driving their own vehicles should do so alone.
Arriving at the stadium
Once players and staff arrive at the stadium they will be given what the Premier League are calling a “sterile route” from their vehicles to the dressing room.
All dressing rooms for teams and match officials must have enough space to allow for suitable social-distancing and additional rooms may be used if needed.
Teams are also being encouraged to stagger the use of their changing rooms, while showers can be used, as long as individuals remain socially distanced.
Use of the players’ tunnel
The team’s walkouts to the pitch will be staggered, with close contact minimised with match officials. There will be no handshakes or congregation in the tunnel.
Pre-match warm-ups and benches
In the pre-match warm-ups, everyone involved should minimise close contact and there will be restricted pitch access.
While team benches will be expanded to enable social-distancing during the match and those in the technical areas must adhere to social distancing measures, with zones clearly marked out. Physios treating players must wear the appropriate PPE at all times.
Players and coaching staff must maintain distance during goal celebrations and there can be no spitting or nose clearing, and no surrounding match officials or mass confrontations during the game.
Drinks breaks will be taken midway through each half, lasting no longer than one minute, with players drinking from their own water bottles. Time will be added on at the end of each half for these.
In the absence of ball assistants, spare match balls will be placed at intervals around the pitch, in case one can’t be retrieved from the stands without causing a delay to the game.
The number of substitutes that can be used during a match is increasing from three to five and teams will be able to have nine players on the bench rather than seven. They will have three opportunities to make substitutions during the match, not including half-time.
VAR will continue to be in operation at IMG Studios, Stockley Park. There will be a different configuration to the usual VAR Hub set-up in order to allow for social distancing, with additional rooms also being used when required.
After the match
Warm-downs should last no more than 25 minutes and are likely to be staggered for each team, while interaction with the other team will also be restricted.
There can be minimal therapy, lasting only 15 minutes at the maximum and all the players’ recovery strategies must be completed at home.
What grounds will look like
Stadium dressing will include a wrap covering seats in the lower tiers at all 20 stadiums. The stadium wraps are designed by each club and aim to improve the environment both visually and acoustically, as well as creating consistency across the competition.76516486337
Clubs can use music at key trigger moments such as kick-off, goals and substitutions by the home club.
Fans watching from home can choose to select EA Sports Atmospheric Audio, but crowd noise will not be played inside the stadium.
There will also be tunnel cameras to help fans see the build-up to matches and audio from the coin toss will now be captured live.