Anticipation for the return of the Premier League is high after a three-month coronavirus-enforced break, but Aston Villa coach Dean Smith has urged fans of his club not to get carried away and gather at Villa Park for the first game back.
Nineteenth-placed Villa host Sheffield United on 17 June in the first top-flight fixture in England since March, and it is a crucial clash for Smith’s side as they attempt to escape the relegation zone.
But Smith has called on fans to offer their support from the safety of their own homes rather than congregating outside Villa Park, with social distancing measures still in effect in the country and prohibiting crowds from filling stadia.
“Just a quick message to all the Aston Villa fans,” Smith said in a video on his club’s Twitter feed.
“Usually I would ask for your support to turn Villa Park into a fortress, but now I must implore our supporters to not travel to the stadium on matchdays, to help us maintain a safe environment for everyone.
“Please stay away, and let the lads play and do you proud.”
Villa are second-bottom on 27 points, with goal difference keeping them behind 18th Bournemouth, 17th Watford and 16th West Ham.
Their match against Sheffield United on 17 June is followed by Manchester City versus Arsenal later that evening.