Project restart: Rough edges that need to be polished before Premier League returns
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Project restart: Rough edges that need to be polished before Premier League returns

All seems set for the return of the English Premier League following the unwanted stoppage owing to the coronavirus pandemic.

Action will resume on June 17 with two matches; one at Etihad as Manchester City host Arsenal and a second at Villa Park as Aston Villa play Sheffield United. 

Project restart is firmly on course and regular meetings aimed at addressing any arising and pending issues have become a norm for the stakeholders. 

Such one meeting is set for Thursday, June 4, with a number of issues on the table. 

Neutral grounds

Premier League clubs have already settled on playing home matches at their venues but there are a few issues around it that are yet to be fully resolved. 

In total, there might be up to six of the remaining 92 games that could be played on neutral grounds.

For instance, Liverpool might clinch the title at Everton, which has led to officials considering staging the match at a neutral ground to avoid the possibility of fans gathering.

The Wembley Stadium has been mentioned as a possible venue for the Merseyside clash, as well as those that could be staged on a neutral ground for various reasons. 

Use of VAR

FIFA and  IFAB allowed leagues to abandon the use of VAR technology once action resumes.

The Bundesliga has continued to use it though since its return, but there are questions on whether the English Premier League will adopt the use of the 'third eye' once action returns. 

Its usage means there will be more people involved during a match, which all leagues are fighting to cut down on. 

The Premier League's chief executive officer Richard Masters is however optimistic that they can count on the technology.

"VAR has its own social-distancing issues, but we think there is a way of completing the season with VAR," he told Sky Sports.

Substitutions

Chelsea recently called for teams to be allowed up to nine substitutes once action resumes over fears of injuries as they'll be rushing players back. 

The clubs are already allowed up to five substitutions from the usual three, in an attempt to minimize injuries and fatigue. 

The players have been out for three months with minimal training and this might affect their general performance. 

Will they allow for an increased number of substitutions?

Fixture list

So far, the two fixtures aforementioned are the only ones whose dates have been defined, and it was easy as they were basically matches at hand.

Fixing the rest of the matches with safety in mind is a daunting task, putting in mind they have limited time to play the remaining 92 matches. 

The FA Cup too, which is in the quarterfinals stage, will be calling for attention with the final set for August 1. 

What happens if the season is not completed?

Everyone is hoping the league will be completed once it kicks off. But in the event, it's not completed as a result of the virus, what happens?

Will they go the Netherlands way, where there won't be relegations or promotions?

A points-per-game formula could be the best way, and this might partly explain why the two matches at hand have to be played first, so that all teams are at par in such an occurrence. 

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