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Premier League return: Fans on screens and celebration cameras to be used

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Fans on big screens and specific cameras to celebrate towards are some of the “broadcast enhancements” that will be used when the Premier League returns this week.

The seats nearest the pitch will also have covers designed by each club “to improve the environment both visually and acoustically”.

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As part of the plans, the Premier League has said live video feeds featuring 16 supporters from each club will be made available to broadcasters and to clubs for use on big screens during matches.

The camera, which will be at a fixed point to the side of the goal and which will not have a camera operator, is intended to encourage players to communicate their celebration to fans watching at home, given the sterile atmosphere of empty grounds and prohibitions on the usual team bundle that follows a goal.

Steven Gerrard iconic celebration

The celebration cam will spark memories of Steven Gerrard’s iconic celebration when he scored in a 4-1 win at Manchester United in 2009 and ran to the corner flag to kiss the camera — though on this occasion embracing the camera in such an intimate manner will not be encouraged for obvious hygiene reasons.

Sky are developing an app which will allow fans to vote on which chants they want to play as background noise to encourage interaction.

The Sky Sports website will also feature a fan zone enabling viewers to watch together in a video room, which will discourage fans from congregating at one house to watch a match and thereby support lockdown restrictions.

There will also be drinks breaks “lasting no longer than one minute” midway through each half, with the time added to the end of each half, and warm-downs can take no longer than 25 minutes.

With only about 300 people present at each match, there will be no ball boys and girls, with spare balls positioned around the pitch.

VAR will also resume, with extra rooms used in the VAR Hub for social distancing.

Ideas from other clubs

Several clubs are considering copying Borussia Monchengladbach’s idea of fans buying a cardboard cut-out photo of themselves to represent them in the stands, while others have contacted Danish club AGF Aarhus, who have a giant video screen with thousands of fans dialing in so that players can see their faces live as they watch the game in their living rooms in what is effectively a mass Zoom call.

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