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Premier League announce comprehensive guidance and rules on return to matchday

4 months ago
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The Premier League is back.

Newcastle United will face Sheffield United on Sunday after 106 days since the last match.

Before that though, we have games that are only 24 hours away.

Man City v Arsenal and Villa v Sheff Utd on Wednesday night.

With the kick-off restart fast approaching, the Premier League have now announced comprehensive guidance and rules on return to matchday.

Official Premier League announcement:

Before the match

Making the stadiums safe

Premier League clubs have worked with local authorities and others to minimise the risk to public health and the reliance on local health and other emergency services.

Clubs must ensure that stadium access is only for specific people. In total, about 300 will be allowed at stadiums for each match until the end of the season.

Stadiums will be divided into three zones: red, amber and green. Each zone has unique protocols and procedures and are only accessible to particular people.

Red Zone

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.

These people must have a “clinical passport”, a bar code 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.

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.

Green Zone

This is the area outside the stadium, where access control points, vehicle parking and outside broadcast compounds and units are located.

Access will be granted in accordance with the club’s COVID-19 policy.

Players’ journeys to the stadium

In line with the Return to Training Protocol, players and staff are required to still undergo daily screening.

Before leaving for a match, they must complete relevant checks for COVID-19 and report any symptoms.

Teams can 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.

Those players or staff driving their own vehicles should do so alone.

In line with Government legislations, hotels should be for essential use only. If hotels are used, risk assessment and mitigating measures should be applied.

When players arrive at the stadium

On arriving at the stadium, players and staff will be given a sterile route from their vehicles to the dressing room.

The dressing rooms for teams and match officials must have enough space to allow for suitable social-distancing. This may mean additional rooms are used.

Teams will be encouraged to stagger their use of changing rooms, while showers can be used, as long as individuals remain socially distanced.

Use of the players’ tunnel

At some stadiums, teams will use different tunnels.

Where there is one tunnel, players and match officials will stagger their journeys to and from the pitch before, during and after a match.

They should not gather in or around the tunnel area at any time, and there should be no handshakes inside the tunnel.

Pre-match warm-ups

During the warm-ups, players and officials should seek to minimise close contact.

Hygiene in the stadium

Clubs must apply strict cleaning measures at stadiums, with widespread disinfection taking place.

This will include, but is not limited to, changing facilities, dugouts, matchballs, goalposts, corner flags and substitution boards.

Hand-sanitiser dispensers must be freely available throughout the stadium, as well as hand-washing facilities being clearly signposted.

People other than players and coaching staff on team benches must wear face coverings, although this will be waived at certain times for broadcast presenters and commentators, while observing social-distancing guidelines

During the match

With the 2019/20 Premier League matches resuming behind closed doors from Wednesday 17 June, here is a guide to the safety measures in place for matchdays and to what fans watching at home can look out for.

During the match

The line-ups

If there is only one tunnel available at the stadium, the away team’s players will enter the pitch first, followed by the home. At some stadiums, teams may be able to use separate tunnels to enter the pitch.

Both sets of players must try to maintain social-distancing while entering the pitch.

When they line up for the Premier League anthem, rather than form a straight line as before, players will now stand in a staggered formation.

The traditional handshakes between the two teams will no longer happen and there will also be no handshakes at the coin toss.

Bigger technical areas

Trainers’ benches will be expanded to enable social-distancing during the match.

This can include using seats next to the bench or reallocating seats to provide the required distance between people. For example, substitutes can be seated in designated areas in the stands behind the benches.

Those people in the technical area must maintain social-distancing, with zones marked out to guide them.

Replacement balls

There are no ball assistants in behind-closed-doors matches, so if a match ball goes into the stands, the referee will decide if the ball can be retrieved without a noticeable delay.

If not, the referee will allow players to use spare balls placed around the pitch.

Medical treatment

If a player needs treatment on the pitch, any club staff performing physiotherapy or soft-tissue treatment must wear the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).

A paramedic crew of two people will be in the Red Zone and clubs should name two members of Red Zone staff to act as stretcher bearers.

Drinks breaks

The referee will signal for drinks breaks to be taken midway through each half. The breaks should last no longer than a minute, with players drinking from their own bottles.

The time taken for the break will be added to the end of the half.

New rules on substitutions

Managers can make use of five substitutes during a match, instead of three, in line with the temporary law amendment made by the International Football Association Board.

Teams can also have nine players on the bench rather than seven. But, one manager can make substitutions on only three occasions during a match, not including those made at half-time.

Only three substitutes from one team are allowed to warm up at one time.

Match officials and VAR

Premier League match officials have been isolating throughout this period, but have been training regularly, with their fitness monitored. They are being tested as regularly as players, and will follow the same protocols.

Video Assistant Referees (VAR) will continue to be in operation for matches, with the configuration of the VAR Hub at IMG Studios, Stockley Park, changed to allow for social-distancing.

Player behaviour

Players and managers have been given these guidelines to reduce risk and maximise personal safety.

– Maintain distance during goal celebrations

– No handshakes

– No spitting or nose-clearing

– Use hand-sanitisers before and after every match

– Players should use their own water bottles

– Avoid mass confrontations with opponents or match officials

– Try to restrict interaction with opponents after the match

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