The Premier League Can Come Back, But Will It?

Stephen Douglas
Official Nike Premier League Match Ball
Official Nike Premier League Match Ball / Visionhaus/Getty Images
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The Premier League has been given the go-ahead by the British government to resume operations on June 1st. Clubs met on Monday to discuss "Project Restart" as coronavirus restrictions begin to loosen in the UK. Unfortunately, it's not quite as easy rolling the ball out and saying, "Play futbol."

The EPL faces a number of hurdles before actual matches resume. Teams will have to train together and then play games in empty, neutral stadiums. Testing will be extensive and costly. Players, especially black players, have concerns about their personal risk. Bottom tier teams want to scrap relegation if they have to play at neutral sites.

Then there is the complication of UK broadcast rights. If the NBA started tomorrow we'd probably have access to every game and it wouldn't cost more than the cable or streaming service we already have. But across the pond, people will have to pay for broadcasts they usually watch in pubs, which they won't be able to do if games resume. You need a TV license and have to pay top dollar for a package that includes the EPL games.

There are 92 matches remaining in the season and 47 of them are supposed to air on Sky or BT. The good news is that they are already discussing putting the other 45 matches online to stream. The bad news is that most people usually watch the other matches in places other than their homes. I'm not expert on UK broadcast rights, but I doubt you can just throw them on regular television if you want to recoup £760 million of the £1,000,000,000 you stand to lose if there is no resumption.

And then there's the whole pandemic thing which they also have to deal with as a society. It doesn't matter how solid a plan they have for the matches or how they decide to split their revenue if cases start to spike again. Hope for the return of the Premier League, but prepare to lose the rest of the season.

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