After a 101-day absence, we return to Premier League action against Arsenal this evening, our first game since the competition was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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The world and our lives have changed exponentially since we last watched Pep Guardiola’s side play and, whilst football is back, it will be different to what we are used to.
The absence of fans is the most significant change, but a host of other measures have been implemented to protect players and staff, all of which will affect the matchday experience.
Here is everything you need to know…
- Before City get under way against Arsenal, a minute's silence will be held to recognise those whose lives have been affected by COVID-19.
- An NHS badge will feature on the shirts of players and match officials for the rest of the 2019/20 season, in tribute to the incredible work of National Health Service workers during the COVID-19 crisis.
- For our first two games back – against Arsenal and Burnley – players names will be replaced by ‘Black Lives Matter’ on the back of shirts. This will be the case in each of the first 12 fixtures after the restart.
- A ‘Black Lives Matter’ sleeve patch will feature on shirts for the remainder of the season.
- With matches being played behind closed doors, the number of key people allowed inside stadiums is limited to 300.
- Stadiums will be divided into three zones. Red includes the pitch and technical areas. Amber is the stands and Green is the stand concourses. Restrictions are in place on who is allowed to enter each zone.
- Teams can make five substitutions, rather than three and are able to name nine substitutes instead of seven.
- However, managers will only be allowed to make changes at three points in the game. This is to reduce the level of disruption in a match.
- Only three substitutes will be allowed to warm up at any one time.
- Entry on to the pitch will be staggered for players and staff and no handshakes will take place before kick-off.
- Corner flags, goalposts, substitution boards and match balls will be deep cleaned before and after each fixture.
- Extra disinfection will take place during matches and at half time, when, for example, the substitution board has been used.
- How the players and coaching staff travel for a game will be dictated by medical protocol, to ensure social distancing is observed.
- Post-match television interviews will take place pitch-side, whilst the post-match press conference will be conducted virtually.
Here at City, we have also been working hard to ensure that, whilst games are played behind closed doors, our supporters have the best possible matchday experience.
Find out, here, how you can get involved with our 'We're Not Really Here' campaign and remain at the heart of of everything we do on a matchday.