The 2019/20 Premier League season has resumed after a 100-day suspension, but football returns in a different guise than before.
We’ve answered any questions you might have on the restart, and how these apply to Palace’s remaining fixtures.
When did the restart begin?
The Premier League returned on Wednesday, 17th June with Aston Villa 0-0 Sheffield United at 18:00 BST. This was followed at 20:15 by Manchester City 3-0 Arsenal, with these games selected for the first day back due to Villa and City’s involvement in the League Cup final.
For Palace, the restart begins against AFC Bournemouth this evening (Saturday, 20th June) at 19:45 - the Eagles were initially due to face the Cherries on March 14th.
Will Palace play at any neutral stadiums?
The Premier League has confirmed that Palace’s first six games will be played at their original locations: Bournemouth’s Vitality stadium, Liverpool’s Anfield, Selhurst Park, Leicester City's King Power, Selhurst Park and Villa Park respectively.
The Premier League does, however, "have a neutral venue contingency," and is working with police at a local and national level to assess and minimise risk.
How can I follow the Palace matches?
Every remaining Premier League match will be broadcast live. Palace’s first three games will be broadcast on the BBC, Sky Sports and Amazon Prime Video respectively. The Bournemouth game will be the first Premier League match in history shown live via the BBC - marking a 28-year first.
If you are unable to access these broadcasts, the club will be covering matches in full as usual. This makes cpfc.co.uk, the official Palace app, Palace TV and our social media channels the first place to go for team news, live updates, an in-depth report and all the post-match reaction and highlights.
BBC Radio 5 Live and talkSPORT will also provide live radio commentaries for all remaining matches.
What changes will be made to the stadiums?
No supporters will be permitted to watch matches in person, with the matches played behind closed doors.
Clubs will apply strict cleaning measures at stadiums, with widespread disinfection taking place.
This will include, but is not limited to, changing facilities, dugouts, matchballs, goalposts, corner flags and substitution boards.
Hand-sanitiser dispensers will be freely available throughout the stadium, as well as hand-washing facilities being clearly signposted.
People other than players and coaching staff on team benches must wear face coverings, although this will be waived at certain times for broadcast presenters and commentators, while observing social-distancing guidelines.
In total, about 300 will be allowed at stadiums for each match until the end of the season.
Stadiums will be divided into three zones: red, amber and green. Each zone has unique protocols and procedures and are only accessible to particular people.
Only people who have had tests in the five days before a match can enter. The zone includes the pitch, the technical area, the tunnel and the dressing rooms.
These people must have a 'clinical passport', a bar code either as a print-out or on their phone. This is scanned to check their most recent test result is negative before they can enter the stadium.
The maximum number of people allowed in this zone is 110.
This covers all areas inside the stadium with the exception of the Red Zone. It includes stands, concourses and pitchside interview areas.
Entry and exit points are strictly managed and, to gain access, individuals must have completed a medical questionnaire, as well as having their temperature checked on arrival.
This is the area outside the stadium, where access control points, vehicle parking and outside broadcast compounds and units are located.
Access will be granted in accordance with the club’s COVID-19 policy.
We’ll be revealing the specific changes made to Selhurst Park next week on the official Palace app and cpfc.co.uk.
What changes for the players?
In short, lots.
Before reaching the stadium
In line with the Return to Training Protocol, players and staff are required to still undergo daily screening. Before leaving for a match, they must complete relevant checks for COVID-19 and report any symptoms.
Teams can travel to the stadium via car, coach, plane or train, but must do so in sterile environments. In all of these transport modes, they must apply social distancing, with appropriate space between occupied seats and full hygiene measures observed.
Those players or staff driving their own vehicles should do so alone.
Players can travel to stadiums on the team bus but there must be space between occupied seats.
In line with Government legislation, hotels should be for essential use only. If hotels are used, risk assessment and mitigating measures should be applied.
When arriving at the stadium
On arriving at the stadium, players and staff will be given a sterile route from their vehicles to the changing room.
The changing rooms for teams and match officials must have enough space to allow for suitable social-distancing. This may mean additional rooms are used.
Teams will be encouraged to stagger their use of changing rooms, while showers can be used, as long as individuals remain socially-distanced.
In the tunnel
At some stadiums, teams will use different tunnels. Where there is one tunnel, players and match officials will stagger their journeys to and from the pitch before, during and after a match.
They should not gather in or around the tunnel area at any time, and there should be no handshakes inside the tunnel.
Players and managers have been given the below guidelines to reduce risk and maximise personal safety.
- Maintain distance during goal celebrations
- No handshakes
- No spitting or nose-clearing
- Use hand-sanitiser before and after every match
- Use own water bottles
- Avoid mass confrontations with opponents or match officials
- Try to restrict interaction with opponents after the match
How will matches be affected?
If a player needs treatment on the pitch, any club staff performing physiotherapy or soft-tissue treatment must wear the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).
A paramedic crew of two people will be in the Red Zone and clubs should name two members of Red Zone staff to act as stretcher-bearers.
The referee will signal for drinks breaks to be taken midway through each half. The breaks should last no longer than a minute, with players drinking from their own bottles. The time taken for the break will be added to the end of the half.
Teams can also have nine players on the bench rather than seven. However, one manager can make substitutions on only three occasions during a match, not including those made at half-time.
Only three substitutes from one team are allowed to warm up at one time.
Match officials and VAR
Premier League match officials have been isolating throughout this period, but have been training regularly, with their fitness monitored. They are being tested as regularly as players, and will follow the same protocols.
Video Assistant Referees (VAR) will continue to be in operation for matches, with the configuration of the VAR Hub at IMG Studios, Stockley Park, changed to allow for social-distancing.
Throughout the restart, please: Support your club. Stay safe. Follow at home.
Much of the above information was taken directly from the Premier League. Find out more about the restart by heading to their website.