Premier League Kicks Off

No face masks, no ball boys and no touching during celebrations - Premier League confirms restart rules.

Premier League clubs have finally, and unanimously, approved a set of rules that will enable the season to restart next Wednesday - albeit behind closed doors - and with a host of carefully considered measures to help ensure that players and officials can take part as safely as possible. But it's all going to look, sound and feel very different!

Celebrations like this will not be allowed as it would breach new social distancing rules

No raucous crowds, no pre-kick off handshakes between opposing coaches, no goal scoring celebrations that involve touching anyone else, no screaming face to face with the ref (or anyone else) and medics wearing PPE if they have to come on to the pitch to attend an injury. But, for football fans, anything is better than no football at all.

Furthermore, teams are strongly encouraged to fly to games on the day of the fixture, with clubs chartering bigger aircraft to comply with social distancing, but crucially will be allowed to stay in hotels overnight if they prefer after the Government permitted an exception for athletes. The Premier League has established a team of compliance officers who will vet suitable hotels close to a stadium in advance, although players will not be ‘quarantined’ and will be allowed to go outside as long as they observe social distancing.

Meanwhile, match officials will have been self-isolating and tested at least twice before games start.

Other measures agreed include:

  • Drinks breaks will be allowed during games, with players using their own water bottles.

  • No ball-boys: so a system of replacement (suitably sterilised) match-balls will be placed on top of cones by the side of the pitch.

  • If the stadium only has one tunnel, players will be led onto the pitch in a staggered formation with the away team going first. And players will have to hand sanitise before they go on and when they come off the pitch.

  • Managers, coaches and players will not have to wear face masks, unless they want to, but will be reminded to observe social distancing especially when speaking to referees and officials.

  • There will be no handshakes and goal celebrations that breach social distancing are prohibited, as is spitting or clearing their nose, although they will not be cautioned if they do.

  • The VAR system will be used as normal.