“Null and void” is null and void. The Premier League is coming back.
During the months to date of the COVID-19 quarantine shutdown, there had been an online campaign among rivals of Liverpool FC to have the 2019-20 season canceled permanently and the accumulated results discarded because they relished the idea of LFC, two wins from a title, being denied. They came to be known, informally, as the “null and void brigade.”
The league will return, albeit with empty stadiums and players and staff regularly tested to assure the return to competitive soccer does not promote spread of the virus. The games are expected to be played mostly at home venues, a condition teams involved in the fight to avoid relegation had agitated to ensure. They expressed that sacrificing home-field advantage was too extreme given the stakes involved, even if there would be no audience to aid the cause.
But league officials still allow that some games could be played at neutral sites because of concern about fans congregating outside stadiums in gatherings that would violate the notion of quarantining (and possibly government regulations) relative to the coronavirus crisis.
The announcement that EPL action would resume with two games June 17 — Arsenal at Manchester City and Sheffield United at Aston Villa — and then a full slate of games the weekend of June 19-21 means Liverpool almost certainly will win its first Premier League championship since the founding of the league in 1992-93.
Despite the lack of suspense about which team will become champion, there are plenty of compelling competitions within the league to capture our attention. Here’s everything soccer fans need to know about the return of the Premier League, including the restart date and a full TV schedule to watch matches in the United States.
When does the Premier League return?
The Premier League is scheduled to return on June 17 with a special Wednesday doubleheader, ending the league’s shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic after 100 days.
When the shutdown took effect March 13, four days after Leicester City had slapped Aston Villa with a 4-0 defeat, every team but four had completed 29 games of the 38-game season. To allow the remainder of the season to progress symmetrically, the league will have Arsenal visit Man City and Sheffield United travel to Aston Villa for the reopeners.
The league generally has scheduled the majority of its games in a single window (10 a.m. ET, which is 3 p.m. in England) to help protect the gate at the various stadiums. With fans unable to enter, the league will contest games one at a time so fans, if they wish, can watch every one on television.
The schedule of game windows will be: Fridays, 3 p.m. ET; Saturdays: 7:30 a.m., 10 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 3 p.m. ET; Sundays 7 a.m., 9 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 2 p.m. ET and Mondays, 3 p.m. ET.
Premier League schedule 2020
The complete schedule for the return of the Premier League has not yet been announced. Kickoff times and TV information will be added when they are available.
Wednesday, June 17
|Arsenal at Manchester City||TBD||TBD|
|Sheffield United at Aston Villa||TBD||TBD|
How to watch EPL games in the USA
NBC Sports has rights to Premier League broadcasts in the United States. It typically broadcasts three select games on Saturdays and two on Sundays on the NBC Sports Network, better known as NBCSN. Some prime early afternoon games are broadcast on NBC’s main network. When there are multiple games in a single window and some are not chosen for television, there is a pay-service package called NBC Sports Gold that accommodates the rest.
NBC made NBC Sports Gold free during COVID-19 quarantine, but that offer is scheduled to expire at the end of May. You can also stream EPL games with fuboTV, which offers a free seven-day trial.
NBC has not yet announced whether it can or will place the entire EPL schedule on television when the league returns.
Soccer fans in Canada will be able to stream Premier League games live with a subscription to DAZN.
When can soccer fans return to EPL stadiums?
As the Premier League discussed “Project Restart” to complete the 2019-20 season, it was a given the games would be played with no spectators allowed, as has been the case in the successful return of Germany’s Bundesliga, which resumed play May 16.
In an interview with Sky Sports, however, Premier League chief executive Richard Masters expressed “optimism” fans would be permitted to return during the 2020-21 season but that their return will be in phases
“Hopefully it will be a huge morale boost and that is what we’ve been working towards,” Masters told Sky. “We’ve got some incredible fans in this country and we all know the Premier League as we know and love it won’t be fully back until we have fans back through the turnstiles.”
Premier League standings
Below are the Premier League standings as of March 13, the date of the last EPL game played before the coronavirus shutdown:
|2. Manchester City||18||3||7||57|
|3. Leicester City||16||5||8||53|
|5. Manchester United||12||9||8||45|
|7. Sheffield United||11||10||7||43|
|11. Crystal Palace||10||9||10||39|
|13. Newcastle United||9||8||12||35|
|16. West Ham United||7||6||16||27|
|18. AFC Bournemouth||7||6||16||27|
|19. Aston Villa||7||4||17||25|
|20. Norwich City||5||6||18||21|
Liverpool has lost exactly two games in the past two seasons, compiling a record of 57 victories, two defeats and eight draws in that period. To lose the Premier League now, LFC likely would have to go 0-9 while Man City would have to be nearly perfect, no worse than 8-0-1.
That possibility is pretty much null and void.
But there are plenty of other tight races to follow:
Champions League positions: With second-place Manchester City currently banned from European competition, Leicester City (53 points), Chelsea (48) and Manchester Uniteed currently occupy the automatic qualifying positions, but Wolverhampton Wanderers and Sheffield United (43 each) are close behind and Tottenham Hotspur (41) and Arsenal (40) are in the chase. Man City are appealing the ban, however, and have a June date to be heard in the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Europa League positions: Those two spots currently belong to Wolves and Sheffield United, with Spurs and Arsenal in pursuit, but they’re certainly also in reach for Burnley and Crystal Palace (39 points each).
Relegation: A fierce battle that was a large part of “boardroom” discussions regarding the restart now will return to the field, with Bournemouth AFC (27 points), Aston Villa (25) and Norwich CIty (21) in the drop zone but Watford and West Ham United (27 each) plus Brighton and Hove Albion (29) trying to remain safe.