It’s already time to start thinking ahead to the new season and there are plenty of changes to the schedule for supporters to get their heads around…
Following the culmination of the Champions League last night, the curtain has finally come down on the longest season. However, Chelsea will be back in action three weeks today with a trip to Brighton in the Premier League so attentions have already turned to the 2020/21 campaign.
Here, we take a look at what the new season has in store, including changes to the cup competitions and an incredibly packed schedule between September and May…
When does the new season start?
The traditional curtain-raiser takes place this weekend with the Community Shield at Wembley on Saturday 29 August between Arsenal and Liverpool.
Premier League football returns on the weekend of 12/13 September, with Frank Lampard’s Blues in action on the evening of Monday 14 September on the South Coast. That later start is not due to TV scheduling, with revised dates and times not yet confirmed by the broadcasters, but to compensate for our later finish due to Champions League involvement.
How are all the games going to fit into a shorter campaign?
With little chance to draw breath! The 2020/21 season is going to be more relentless than ever before as almost every available weekend or midweek is set to feature a round of league fixtures, cup ties or international football.
In fact, there are set to be only four spare midweeks throughout the entire campaign, with some of those certain to feature rearranged Premier League games. This is because the season is starting almost six weeks later than originally planned due to the heavy disruption last term.
When does the Champions League start again?
The draw for the group stage will be held in Athens on Thursday 1 October, with Chelsea confirmed as Pot 2 seeds. That means we will face one of the champions of the top six European leagues or the holders of the Champions League or Europa League in the group.
Fixtures will be played over six consecutive midweek dates for club football from October through to December.
Champions League group stage dates:
20/21 October – Group stage, matchday one
27/28 October – Group stage, matchday two
3/4 November – Group stage, matchday three
24/25 November – Group stage, matchday four
1/2 December – Group stage, matchday five
8/9 December – Group stage, matchday six
UEFA has relaxed its rule preventing domestic league games from being played at the same time as Champions League matches for this season.
What about the domestic cup competitions?
Changes have been announced to the Carabao Cup and FA Cup for this season, with semi-finals in the former reduced to just a single tie in January 2021, while the FA have confirmed that replays in the latter competition have been scrapped to ease pressure on the football schedule.
The third round of the Carabao Cup, the stage at which Chelsea will enter, will be played in the midweek of 22/23 September, while the FA Cup third round is pencilled in for its traditional slot early in the New Year.
And international football?
International managers have waited patiently for their work to resume, with the March window lost to the pandemic and the Euro 2020 tournament scheduled for this summer eventually postponed by a year.
The first international break of 2020/21 actually takes place before club football gets underway, with UEFA Nations League group games in Europe set to take place next week. There are further windows in October (5th-13th, featuring three match dates), November (9th-17th, also featuring three games) and March (22nd-30th) before the delayed European Championship finals beginning on 11 June.
For those players prominent for both club and country, it is set to be a restless campaign.
Will supporters be allowed in stadiums?
The 2020/21 season will begin behind closed doors. The Premier League is committed to getting fans back into full stadia as soon as possible, with safety always being the priority.
Will there be a winter break?
No. There will be a split Premier League gameweek in January though, spread across two midweeks.
Will managers still be able to make five substitutes in a game?
The temporary increase will not be in effect in 2020/21 following a vote by Premier League shareholders. This means that sub benches will revert back to seven and the amount of changes made will go back to three.