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Adam McKendry

Is this the perfect time for the Premier League to sound out new innovations like players wearing mics?

Adam McKendry


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Now we’re cooking: I enjoyed a rewarding vantage point for the Premier League’s return

Now we’re cooking: I enjoyed a rewarding vantage point for the Premier League’s return

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Now we’re cooking: I enjoyed a rewarding vantage point for the Premier League’s return

So there we have it. Premier League football officially returned after a 100-day hiatus when Aston Villa and Sheffield United kicked-off at 6pm yesterday.

Some things have changed, obviously. No fans in the stands, replaced by piped-in crowd noise over the PA. No pre-or-post-game handshakes. Drinks breaks in both halves. Five substitutions permitted for each side.

Amidst all the change, it's nice to see some things have survived the lockdown though.

The teams are much the same: the Blades still don't score many goals for a top-half side and Villa look set to be tangled up in a relegation battle until the final weekend of the season. The players and coaches are the same. The stadiums are the same.

And, oh yes, technology still hasn't reduced the amount of controversy, even after three months off.

Take your pick of the reasons as to what happened when Orjan Nyland collapsed into his own net clutching Oliver Norwood's free-kick and somehow didn't concede a goal. Did some poor soul in Villa Park have that horrible moment when it dawned on him he forgot to turn on the goal-line decision system? Is VAR still on furlough? Is Nyland wasting his days by pursuing football instead of being a sleight of hand magician? Who knows. Whatever the reason, Norwood was robbed of a goal and the glory of being a pub quiz answer for years to come.

It's unfortunate that's what ended up being the talking point from the game rather than focusing on what should have been a day to celebrate the return of the Premier League to our screens.

It had even started in the right way too. The minute's silence for those who have sadly lost their lives due to the coronavirus was followed by a brilliantly pre-planned taking of the knee by the players and officials in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. It was a powerful statement and will likely be a lasting image of sport during Covid-19.

And while the game that followed wasn't exactly a classic, it did raise a few points and ideas for the Premier League to consider going forward. After all, if you're going to trial some new things why not do it when you don't have fans in the stands?

The main one that I can't help but think they're missing out on is by not having players and coaches mic up - with team permission, of course. In a time where fans are as far away from live games as possible, why not bring the action closer by giving an insight into the game rather than crowd noise that offers little?

Nobody's looking for state secrets or in-depth tactics, it would just be an opportunity to get a unique perspective on the game. The chance to hear coaches and players reacting to the heat of a game would be a valuable insight we're usually not privy to.

There's a chance here for the Premier League to revolutionise how people watch the game, whether that be through use of microphones or in other ways, and the best time to do it is now when they need to prove to fans that they are as close to the game in lockdown as they would be under normal circumstances.

It's a start. But, unlike their goal-line technology, this is when the Premier League need to be switched on.

Belfast Telegraph