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Long-awaited Riyadh derby, SPL games will finally kick-off with safety measures in place
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 02 - 08 - 2020

The most popular match in the Saudi Pro League will get under way with Al Nasr hosting Al Hilal on Wednesday, with the largest ever number of safety precautions in place to allow fixtures to safely return.
If the eagerness of a football return was needed to be summarized in a photograph, it will be highlighted by the fact that players from both clubs will arrive at King Fahd Stadium fully kitted ready to take to the field for the Riyadh derby on Wednesday evening.
This is just one of the new rules put in place throughout every league game to ensure a safe return to the country's most popular sport, as players and coaches prepare for the much-welcomed Saudi Pro League after a 144 day absence with a full round of fixtures getting under way on Tuesday (Aug. 4) and Wednesday (Aug. 5).
Fans are unable to attend games due to social distancing rules and a number of other regulations have been put in place at every stadium behind the scenes ahead of the season resuming on Tuesday evening.
Players would usually arrive to stadiums on team buses, however these will now be reduced to smaller conveys, with staggered team arrivals, which will also see players turn up in their kit ready to take straight to the field for warmups ahead of the game, avoiding mass numbers in changing rooms.
There are over 30 areas of precaution being implemented across matchdays, aside from the restrictions on spectators entering the ground, with all clubs and players agreeing to the rules, which have been thoroughly planned by the SPL and the Ministry of Sport.
Arrival points into stadiums will be spread out for each competing team and their staff, whilst there is a maximum of five players allowed in changing rooms at any one stage to allow for a safe environment.
Whilst a lot of work has gone into the safety preparations behind the scenes, the changes that supporters can expect to see are the avoiding of handshakes or hugs on the pitch, whilst the technical areas will see dugouts restricted to just nine of the club's coaching staff and substitutes, with others having to take up positions in the stands, whilst all wearing masks.
Throughout matchdays, stadiums will be disinfected across all areas such as changing rooms and corridors, through to advertising hoardings and corner flags, with the league ensuing the highest standards of safety are maintained throughout the remaining eight rounds of fixtures.
Despite not being present stadiums, fans can still get behind their team and show their support through the SPL's #OurLeagueIsBack digital campaign which encourages fans of all clubs to share their messages and join the conversation online.
Don't miss out on the excitement and join the discussion using SPL social media accounts on Twitter (@SPL), Instagram (SaudiProLeague), Facebook (@SaudiProLeague.SPL) and by using the hashtag #OurLeagueIsBack. — SG

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