Players take a knee as Premier League restarts

Football takes the knee: Players and referees drop to the turf in Black Lives Matter salute AFTER the whistle to start the match as the first Premier League game in 100 days kicks off

  • False start in Premier League return as players take the knee after whistle to kick off the match was blown  
  • Every playing member plus the referee and officials knelt in a show of solidarity with Black Lives Matter
  • Aston Villa and Sheffield United were kicking off the first Premier League match in 100 days 
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Players, staff and officials all took the knee prior to the return of Premier League football, after a 100-day absence as sport battled amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Aston Villa and Sheffield United got proceedings back under way in the Midlands, as top flight English football marked its comeback with a mass showing of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.

As both teams emerged out onto the field and took formations prior to kick-off, every playing member plus the referee and officials took the knee as a show of support and unity, in the wake of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

With football a staple part of British culture, fans could not hide their delight at the return of the beautiful game, albeit in very strange and unusual circumstances.

Only a small portion of individuals were allowed in the stadiums, including just a handful of journalists and media representatives, along with security teams and both playing squads – all adhering to social distancing measures. 

As football finally made its return amid the coronavirus pandemic, players of Aston Villa and Sheffield United took the knee

Every playing member, plus the referee and matchday officials, kneeled on the turf in the moments before kick-off

Players came together to show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, in the wake of the killing of George Floyd

Names on the back of shirts were also replaced with Black Lives Matter, as football threw itself behind the movement

he Aston Villa bench look on during the Premier League match, spaced out among the stands in line with health guidelines

The first whistle signalled the moment fans had been waiting for, the return of Premier League after a 100 days absence

Villa Park stadium in Birmingham played host to the eagerly awaited return of Premier League football on Wednesday night

Players warmed up inside the empty stadium, as football’s return took on a strange and eerie feeling

Taking all health precautions, goal posts and surrounding objects were wiped clean with disinfectant ahead of the match

Staff members wearing masks took to the field to ensure the hygiene of the pitch, as football made its first comeback since the coronavirus pandemic broke out

Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish looked in high spirits as he warmed up prior to the match against Sheffield United

Only a handful of journalists and media representatives were permitted into the stadium, and had to sit apart while adhering to social distancing measures

The stands of Villa Park were draped in huge club flags, to mask the absence of supporters in the stadium

Villa fans watch the game on a laptop outside Villa Park in Birmingham, unable to watch the action at pitchside

Taking to Twitter, Prince William – the head of the FA – voiced his opinion on football’s return.

He wrote: ‘So good to have football back, we have all missed it! Thank you to everyone involved for your hard work in making it happen. W.’ 

England legend and football pundit Gary Lineker echoed the sentiments, adding: ‘Hello football. Lovely to see you, finally. Really missed you.’ 

All usual procedures have momentarily been suspended, with the players of both sides not using the traditional changing room arrangements in order to prepare for the match.

Instead, players, staff and officials were kept distanced apart in different sections of the stadium, with neither team lining up in the tunnel as is customary before a match.

Taking to the pitch with the Premier League anthem playing, the players were arranged into spaced areas, with no handshakes exchanged and an absence of all mascots. 

Both teams warmed up in ‘Black Lives Matter’ T-shirts, in the wake of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, and the widespread movement which has since followed across the globe

Football fans could be back in stadiums in time for NEXT SEASON, says minister – as he warns them to stay away from grounds as the Premier League FINALLY kicks off again

Football fans could be back watching their teams in time for next season, the Culture Secretary said tonight as the Premier League restarted after three months in limbo.

Oliver Dowden said he hoped that ‘some’ supporters could in time be allowed in to watch games from the stands, as the top flight began again behind closed doors due to coronavirus.

Aston Villa take on Sheffield United tonight in the first game since the league was suspended in March, with runaway league leaders Liverpool expected to quickly wrap up the title. 

All the remaining 92 matches must be played behind closed doors, with mass gatherings banned due to social distancing measures designed to limit the spread of the virus.

Oliver Dowden said he hoped that ‘some’ supporters could be allowed in to watch games as the top flight begins again behind closed doors due to coronavirus.

Taking the daily Downing Street press conference this evening, Mr Downden said: ‘I would really hope that by the return of the new season we might be in a position whereby some fans could start to return to stadiums.

‘And I know that would be another important part of restoring the financial position of clubs.’

But hailing the ‘hugely symbolic moment’ in the coronavirus recovery he pleaded with fans not to go to games or congregate outside the grounds.

Villa can move out of the relegation zone with a win against European-chasing Sheffield United in a game that started at 6pm, with reigning champions Man City hosting Arsenal in the second contest at 8.15pm.

An Arsenal win would mean Liverpool could lift the trophy with a win at rivals Everton on Sunday.

Fears have been raised about fans congregating but Mr Dowden said that there was ‘nothing to be gained’ from crowding outside stadiums while football matches were going on.

The Cabinet minister said he had been ‘working closely’ with police on how to deal with such incidents.

‘Police have appropriate powers and they will be able to use them as necessary,’ he said.

‘But I really hope this situation won’t arise in the first place. I really do trust the good sense of football fans up and down the country, and indeed of the British public, to know that you can watch this safely at home.

‘There is nothing to be gained from congregating outside a stadium.

‘The only thing that can happen if you congregate outside a stadium is to put at risk public health.’  

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