The Premier League has approved a range of measures aimed at enhancing the experience of behind-closed-doors fixtures ahead of the league’s restart later this month.
Last Thursday’s meeting between Premier League shareholders saw several topics discussed including how to improve the experience of watching games without the presence of spectators, with a newly formed Broadcast Enhancement Advisory Group putting forward a range of proposals.
According to the Telegraph, those proposals included using ‘pre-recorded terrace songs’ to be played into stadiums to mark home goals being scored and substitutions, ‘stadium dressing’ to disguise empty seats and ‘virtual fan walls’ beamed into the stadium.
The latter proposal comes after the success of Danish Super League side AGF Aarhus, who have installed a huge screen running across one stand, displaying the images of 10,000 of the club’s supporters connected to their behind-closed-doors match against rivals Randers via video-conferencing tool, Zoom.
Clubs have been told they can erect more big screens into their stadiums ahead of the league’s restart, on which 25 supporters from each club can make up a ‘fan wall’ over a video call, allowing for virtual interaction between players and fans during fixtures, though no sound would be played within the stadium.
The Premier League has also given the green light for ‘stadium dressing’, with clubs permitted to cover empty seats with a ‘wrap’ on the lower tier in a bid to improve the visual appearance and limit the echo associated with behind closed doors games. A minimum of 65 per cent of the coverings can be made up of ‘fan imagery, flags or banners’, up to 25 per cent is permitted to be used for sponsors with the remaining 10 per cent for ‘Premier League messaging’. The estimated cost, which will be paid for by the Premier League, is £2 million.
Meanwhile, fans watching at home will also be able to select the option to listen to artificial fan noise, as provided the Premier League’s official video game, FIFA20, though such noise is not permitted to be played inside the stadium while the ball is in play.
English football’s top tier has been suspended since mid-March but is now just over a week from returning, Aston Villa’s clash with Sheffield United the first fixture of the behind-closed-doors return, kicking off at 6pm on Wednesday June 17.