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English Premier League may use CGI fans, canned crowd noise in restart

The absence of fans was highly noticeable on Bundesliga broadcasts with players’ shouting the only noise to be heard other than the voice of the commentator.

Sources with knowledge of the discussions have indicated that all options are currently on the table, including adding crowd noise and the use of computer generated (CGI) fans to replace the images of empty seats in the stadium.

Bundesliga matches have been played and broadcast with no crowd.

Bundesliga matches have been played and broadcast with no crowd.Credit:Getty Images

No decision has been taken on whether to use such technology, with concerns that any changes do not make the game appear too far away from the reality of what is unfolding on the pitch.

“In terms of the precise nature of what we are planning, we haven’t really talked about it with the wide group yet so I don’t want to share too much of the plans,” said Masters during a conference call with reporters.


“But obviously the big issue is that if there aren’t fans in the stadium, what does the viewing fan at home, what’s his experience like? And how different is it to a normal Premier League production and that’s the question we’re seeking to answer,” he added.

A number of companies offer technology, including augmented reality products, which could add crowd noise and the impression of a crowd to broadcasts.

“The idea is to protect the integrity and experience of the game, by turning the attention away from the empty stadium, and instead replacing it with appealing surroundings to make the game more interesting, and as close to reality as possible,” said Gudjon Gudjonsson, CEO of one such company, OZ Sports.

“These are times to explore and experiment, to make sports even more appealing and to bring it closer to the latest developments in esports,” he added.

OZ Sports declined to discuss whether they were in talks with the Premier League. “OZ Sports can confirm it is in discussions with multiple sports bodies, not limited to football,” the company said.

While the league and broadcasters evaluate all the options, the focus for now is on the players returning to their training grounds on Tuesday.

Initial training will be in small groups, no bigger than five players, and with social distancing rules enforced in and around the facilities.

Players will also be tested regularly with the first set of results expected to be made public on Tuesday.


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