The return of the Premier League season is edging closer and closer after the competition has been on hold since March as a result of the coronavirus crisis.
But more still needs to be confirmed and finalised before games can started being played.
Here’s a look at the latest news on what’s going on in Project Restart…
Fewer Neutral Venues Than Expected?
Liverpool v Arsenal at Anfield
As few as four Premier League games might be played at neutral venues as fixtures return following the enforced coronavirus suspension, writes the Daily Mail.
That could include Liverpool winning their first title in 30 years at Anfield rather than a neutral location. The newspaper explains that Premier League official Bill Bush has written to clubs in light of the possibility of six key fixtures being moved to neutral venues.
It is said that Bush noted that Merseyside Police have responded by saying they feel they could sufficiently handle the games going ahead on their watch. Police in Greater Manchester and Northumbria will continue to review the situation, but the Mail claims GMP expect that two of the three games in Manchester earmarked for neutral venues could go ahead as normal.
Games that still hold concern are Manchester City vs Liverpool and Newcastle vs Liverpool.
Nuno Espirito Santo interviewed by Sky Sports
The next meeting of Premier League clubs is expected to include discussions over the possibility of greater access for broadcasters to conduct in-game interviews with managers and coaches.
Broadcasters are seeking ways to make the return of football in empty stadiums more engaging for fans at home and the Daily Express writes that in-game interviews during breaks in play is one of a host of suggestions drawn up by broadcasters like Sky Sports, BT Sport, Amazon and BBC.
Tunnel interviews at half-time and cameras in the dressing room are also included, although microphones on managers is an idea that has already been dismissed by clubs.
Chelsea Seek More Subs
Chelsea substitutes during a Premier League game
According to the Daily Mail, Chelsea have submitted a formal proposal to the Premier League that, if accepted, would increase the number of substitutes on the bench raised from seven to nine.
The logic behind the motion is that it would give managers greater choice and flexibility amid concerns over injuries due to the congested fixture schedule.
The Premier League is yet to incorporate the temporary changes passed by IFAB last month that will allow five substitutes to be used per team each game. Those temporary rule changes are at the discretion of each individual competition, although the Mail notes it is being considered.
Clubs Must Wash Training Ground Gates
Watford training ground
There has been an unsavoury level of immaturity in some of the reporting surrounding the Premier League’s efforts to ensure player and staff safety amid the return to training.
Last month, The Sun and Daily Mail referred to inspectors deployed to ensure that health and safety guidelines are being adhered to as ‘snoops’ and ‘spies’. Now, the Mail has poked fun at the so-called ‘snoop squad’ by claiming a request for training ground gates to be routinely cleaned is ‘bizarre’.
Because doing everything you possibly can to ensure the safety of everyone at football clubs and limit the risk of spreading a lethal virus that has killed nearly 40,000 people in a matter of months in the UK alone is laughable, silly and pointless…
Wolves Exploring Warm-Up Matches
Tottenham Hotspur v Wolverhampton Wanderers – Premier League
Premier League clubs won’t have played games for a little over three months by the time the 2019/20 season resumes from 17 June. There will be a significant element of rust and cobwebs, which could make an argument for playing warm-up games, sort of like pre-season friendlies.
Wolves have plenty to gain from hitting the ground running as they hunt for a European place next season, with west midlands newspaper Express & Star writing that the club are exploring the possibility of holding at least one warm-up game against another team.
A number of other clubs could go down a similar route, with Brighton open to it and promotion chasers West Brom ready to play two friendlies before the Championship returns on 20 June.