MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - In just three weeks, Memphis 901 FC will be back for just its second game of the season. The USL is targeting July 11th as its return to play date and it’s still on track to have soccer back in Memphis and other cities.
901 FC is known for it’s loud fans filling up AutoZone Park. The Bluff City Mafia brings the energy to games. However, there may not be fans in the stands when games resume. USL VP of Communications and PR Ryan Madden says it’ll differ depending on markets.
“The reality is COVID-19 has impacted certain parts of the country significantly more than other parts of the country,” Madden said. “We have to just be flexible and make sure we’re setting minimum standards and looking out for everyone’s health and wellness.”
According to Madden, the response has been positive. Fans and teams are just excited to return in the first place. The schedule might look different too.
“We’ve also considered changing our traditional format, whether that’s regionalizing competition structures, some other sort of unique things that limit travel, maximize games and look after health and wellness,” he said. “So I can’t give you a specific number of games, I can tell you it’s going to be less than a normal season. You may see a certain opponent more than you normally would, but that’s better than no soccer.”
The league is still finalizing its return to play plan. It’s about a 40-page document that focuses on social distancing measures, travel and PPE.
“We feel very confident because we brought in several health experts. Doctors from Northwestern University, the University of Tennessee, Chief Medical Officer with U.S. Soccer, legal medical operational experts from both inside the league and outside the league who all came together.”
Memphis 901 FC has expanded practices to bigger groups than the original small group training. Since Memphis is still in Phase 2 of its reopening plan, fans would currently not be allowed.