Premier League 1

Three months after the Premier League was suspended because of the COVID-19 outbreak, it restarts in three days, with champions Manchester City hosting Arsenal.

It is not the first time we will be watching a football game since that time.

The German Bundesliga resumed May 16. LaLiga restarted June 11. Serie A is back June 20.

But it is Britain's most watched drama series everyone is waiting for.

Because it is never quite the same, especially for fans in Nigeria, where you will several religious camps of EPL supporters.

However, it will not be quite the same.

In the reverse fixture when Arsenal hosted Pep Guardiola's men, the official attendance inside the Emirates Stadium was recorded as 60,031.

Next Wednesday, there will probably be 300 people inside the Etihad, including players and coaching staff.

City fans are notoriously not loud, but having no single soul inside the ground to cheer a goal or boo a defeat will give off the atmosphere of a neutral ground to the players.

Make no mistakes, home advantage is still a thing in football and footballers feed off the energy - positive or negative - of supporters.

However, we will not be seeing the ever passionate band of bubbly fans in stadiums yet, as social distancing is still in force.

The economic effects of the pandemic then becomes real. Clubs' revenues are dipping steadily and Arsenal players for instance had to agree to a 12.5% cut in their wages, as clubs around Europe begin to grapple with the new reality.

In the larger picture, the UK's economy will feel the brute force. As at last year October, CareerBuilder noted that its sports industry is responsible for a whopping £23.8billion annually for the economy.

The bite will go round. Sponsors, betting companies, pub owners, viewing centre operators.

Arsenal playmaker, Mesut Ozil, has already been dropped by Adidas, who clung onto the German's political choices as their official line. More will be affected. Other players may be asked to renegotiate their contracts.

Betting has become a multi-million dollar business over the years, but the last few months have been tough. After all, there is no sports betting without sports. Virtual bets have failed to replicated the buzz. The drop in revenue has trickled all the way down from operators to agents to customers.

Viewing centre operators might, however, continue to count their losses, as they have been reportedly banned from airing live games. What this means, is that the regular Nigerian who is not able to afford cable TV, will miss out when the fun begins. With the hectic schedule ahead, streaming might be too expensive.

But does it matter if we lose or gain? The Premier League returns.

Liverpool cannot wait to be crowned champions. They are already at the finish line, their chest almost touching the tape. Their eyes on the prize they have not won in more than 30 years.

There is still much to play for though, especially European football and relegation.

When the voice of Martin Tyler or Peter Drury welcomes us as the players stand in the tunnel, what you will hear around the globe, is a sigh of relief.

And a simple prayer of gratitude for small mercies.

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