The Premier League’s return was a long-awaited event for football fans all over the world, as one of the most popular leagues in world sport finally returned to action after more than three months of a hiatus due to the coronavirus. However, fans will notice that the matches and the atmosphere are not the same as before, and this is for obvious reasons.
Fans are obviously not allowed inside the stadiums anymore, which makes for a surreal atmosphere, as it almost seems as if the matches are training games or friendlies rather than competitive matches in the biggest football league in the world. The Premier League has been using fans’ chants and crowd noise played through speakers during the games to try and simulate some form of the atmosphere that is a regular part of live football, but the jury is still out on that decision, with fans at home being split between those who like it and those who detest it. Nevertheless, it was a necessary decision, and one that people may need to get used to, as there are some who say that fans may not be part of the football till the end of the next season at the earliest, based on how quickly a vaccine for the coronavirus can be mass-produced and made available.
Another change we have seen in the Premier League is the introduction of a drinks break at the midway point of each half. This has effectively turned the match into a game of four quarters, similar to baseball, with the break being detrimental to a lot of teams’ concentration and patterns of play. However, fans who may not like these breaks in action can use them to play online casino games, or even place bets, as sports betting websites are offering their usual match odds and in-play options now that live football is back.
This brings us to an important factor – viewership. With no live fans in the stadiums, every football fan has been forced to rely on their TV or on online streams to watch live football, even those who used to religiously be a part of the stadium experience on every matchday. However, most of the rights holders are doing all they can to make football accessible to everyone for the remainder of the Premier League season. For example, in the UK, there are a lot more free games available to watch than usual, with all the remaining games being broadcast live. Sky Sports and BT Sport will have the lion’s share of the games, as usual, but for the first time in the Premier League’s history, live football will return to the BBC, with the national service getting a handful of games to air for free. 25 of the 64 games which Sky will air will be for free, while the other providers – BT and Amazon Prime, have not yet disclosed this for their share of games.
In the USA, NBC remains the best option for fans, with two options – the Matchday Pass which will provide access to 140 live games from all over Europe, and the Premier League Pass, which will only have Premier League games, but supplement that with highlights, analysis, replays and more.
DAZN is the place to be for Canadian fans wanting Premier League action; the broadcaster will be showing all the remaining matches, and they even have a one-month free trial so you can actually get most of the matches for free right now.
In Australia, Optus Sport will be showcasing all the games, and thus are the best option for fans Down Under wanting their fix of Premier League action.