After the football season in the world was halted abruptly due to COVID-19 outbreak, the Premier League is ready to return on June 17 and matches will be played behind closed doors. Fans are a major part of sports and Sky is partnering with EA Sports’ FIFA division in order to simulate a live audience for its viewers.
The Premier League is the biggest football league in the world and the atmosphere is always heated up thanks to the fans. Sky Sports hopes to replicate “the vibrant atmosphere of Premier League clashes” since stadiums will be empty when league matches return, says a press release. This will be designed for specific teams and viewers can choose to watch matches with the added sound effect or not.
The German Bundesliga was the first major league to return on Saturday, May 16 and matches were played without fans as a safety measure due to the ongoing Coronavirus as countries try new ways to ease lockdown. A total of 213 people was allowed in a stadium – 98 on the pitch (players, coaches and ball boys) and 115 in the stands (security, medics and, media). Another 109 such as security and VAR operators were allowed just outside the stadium. Borussia Monchengladbach made cardboard cut-outs images of their supporters on empty sits inside their stadium.
Fans will have the option to watch “select matches with friends in a video room and interact” on the Sky Sports website and on the app; the press release revealed. “We want Sky Sports viewers to still feel it all and have the best possible viewing experience — even if they can’t be in the stadiums or watch with their family and friends,” says Rob Webster, Sky Sports Managing Director.
Coverage will provisionally resume on June 17 beginning with Aston Villa vs Sheff United and Man City vs Arsenal. Sky Sports will show a total of 64 matches, 39 of them will be exclusive to subscribers and an extra 25 available on Sky’s free-to-air channel ‘Pick”.