Villa park is the first in Premier League history to be played without fans
Birmingham , England : No Room for Racism. The return of the Premier League 2020 began with a poignant moment. Right before kick-off Wednesday, Aston Villa (AVL) and Sheffield United (SHU) push a strong statement of support for the Worldwide protests against racism. Instead of usual players name, all the players names on the back “Black Lives Matters’ to show solidarity for the International protests against racism sparked after Police custodial death of George Floyd in United States of America.
The players and the referee Michael Oliver , also took a knee as the opening whistle was blown , following a moment’s silence before kick-off in memory of those who died in the coronavirus pandemic.
Before starting the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Sheffield United , both team issued a joint statement heading with “Aston Villa and Sheffield United were proud to stand in solidarity with the actions of the players and coaching staff of both football clubs during the first ten seconds of tonight’s Premier League fixture, expressing out collective support for the Black Lives Matter movement”
“In the first Premier League fixture of project Restart both clubs hope that the act of ‘taking a knee’ will send a strong massage of unity and amplify the many massages of support from Premier League players and wider football family”
“The directors of both clubs, Dean Smith, Chris Wilder , Jack Grealish and Billy Sharp and the players of United and Villa are in full support of this action.
“We believe that ‘taking a knee’ at the start of the fixture and after the pre-match minute’s silence , allowed both clubs to pay their respects to COVID-19 victims and to show the deep gratitude we will fell for our brave and self-less front-line workers”
However, the match at a rainy Villa park is the first in Premier League history to be played without fans , and with strict protocols in place.
Only 300 personnel were allowed into a stadium divided into three different security zones to try and restrict any possible spread of Wuhan virus , which has claimed close to 42,000 lives in United Kingdom.
The match was the first of 92 to be played inside the next 6 weeks to finish the Premier League season.