No spitting, socially distanced celebrations and physios wearing PPE - How football will look when Norwich City return
- Credit: PA
Norwich City’s Premier League return is seen as a welcome step back towards normality by many - but the top-flight will look radically different when it returns to supporters screens this week.
Society has been told to brace itself for a ‘new normal’ as the UK continues to fight the coronavirus pandemic. Elite football was cleared to return by the government at the start of this month.
City resume their Premier League campaign against Southampton at Carrow Road on Friday - but football will be very different in terms of its make-up.
The Premier League has announced several alterations to a match day experience - including the removal of ball assistants and physios having to wear full PPE to treat players on the pitch.
If there is only one tunnel at the stadium hosting the match - as is the case with Carrow Road - then the away team will take to the pitch first, closely followed by the home side.
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Players from both sides will then form a staggered formation as the official Premier League anthem is played, but pre-match handshakes will be banned.
As has been the case in the Bundesliga, benches occupied by substitutes will be extended to enable social distancing. Coaches and managers occupying the technical area must remain socially distanced, with zones being marked out to help them.
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Ball assistants won’t be present in behind closed doors Premier League matches, instead balls will be placed outside the pitch - with the referee deeming whether a ball can be retrieved without a prolonged stoppage.
Drinks breaks will be signalled by the match official during each half - these will last no longer than a minute before play resumes.
Referees have been isolating throughout this time as well as having regular testing in the same way as the players. VAR will be in operation - with Stockley Park being adapted to comply with social distancing rules.
Kevin Friend will take charge of City’s opening fixture back against Southampton - with Simon Hooper manning VAR.
Spitting has been banned, with players instructed they must perform goal celebrations safely at a distance from their team-mates.