Newcastle United fans are split on Project Restart and the return of the Premier League.

The Magpies have resumed full-contact training ahead of a proposed return to top-flight competitive action from June 17.

Sat eight points clear of the relegation zone, United have nine remaining Premier League fixtures as well as an FA Cup quarter-final tie against Manchester City.

It will be more than three months since Allan Saint-Maximin grabbed a vital later winner against Southampton in the Magpies' last competitive outing.

But despite the prospective return of football, United fans are divided on whether the sport should be returning so soon in the wake of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

The Great Big Football Lockdown Survey was issued across Reach's network in England and Wales, and drew responses from 1,013 Newcastle supporters.

Among these, 48% of fans voted against the return of the 2019/20 season, and 48% voted in favour of Project Restart. The same question drew an almost identical split across England and Wales, with responses clearly driven by club loyalties.

For example, the same survey among Liverpool fans saw 90% of Reds' fans back the resumption of the 2019/20 season, while 80% of Manchester City fans believe the campaign should be curtailed.

More than a quarter of United fans backed a June restart. When asked when the Premier League should return, 27% voted for June while 21% believe it should be later than September. July and August both received 14% of the vote, while 22% believe football should resume in September.

Danny Rose
Danny Rose

Among the chief concerns with the return of the Premier League is the health and safety of players and staff, with Watford striker Troy Deeney among those to publicly discuss this issue.

United defender Danny Rose was another to express his concerns, stating players were being treated as "lab rats" with the Premier League's return.

The safety of players and staff is an important issue for United supporters, with 82% of fans saying they would back a player if he refused to return over concerns for their health. A minority (12%) said they wouldn't, while 6% admitted they were unsure how they would react.

The Premier League is set to return behind closed doors, but the majority of United fans claim they will feel safe to go back to St James' Park when supporters are allowed to return. Asked if they would feel safe watching live football when spectators are permitted, 68% of Newcastle fans voted they would.

For the first time since the Premier League was created in 1992, a selection of matches will be broadcast free-to-air. Sky Sports will show 25 of their 64 remaining fixtures for free, and the BBC will also broadcast four matches.

And this is a move Magpies supporters clearly favour, with 62% of fans claiming they would not pay extra to watch live coverage of matches played behind closed doors.

Richard Masters, Chief Executive of Premier League, addresses journalists during a media briefing on February 04, 2020 in London, England.
Richard Masters, Chief Executive of Premier League, addresses journalists during a media briefing on February 04, 2020 in London, England.

The question of neutral venues is one that remains, with Premier League chief executive Richard Masters recently admitting discussions with the authorities were ongoing to address "concerns".

The prospect of United being forced to play their 'home' fixtures away from St James' Park is unpopular among Magpies supporters, with 59% saying they were against the idea. More than a quarter (29%) of fans said they were fine with the suggestion, while 12% insist they didn't care and just wanted football to return.

Here is how United fans voted on a number of other issues in The Great Big Football Lockdown Survey:

  • If the season can't be completed, Newcastle United fans said that using points-per-game would be their preferred option (38%). 28% said make the season null and void, while 34% said standings as they are.

  • When asked what their concerns were about football returning, 63% of Newcastle United fans said it was the safety of those involved. 43% said congregation of fans around stadiums, 29% said resources being used for football, rather than other things, 20% said sporting integrity being compromised, 48% said returning too early and having to stop again, 37% said a lack of atmosphere due to playing without any fans in the stadium and 1% said 'I don't know'.

  • When asked why they want football to return, 19% of Newcastle United fans said it was to complete the season on sporting integrity. 16% said to boost morale across the country, 13% said to help set out a roadmap to the 2020/21 season, 19% said ensure the financial safety of clubs in the long-term, 14% said to give me something to look forward to, 6% said to give me something to do, and 13% said 'none of the above'.

  • 52% of Newcastle United fans feel the Covid crisis has strengthened the need to restructure the game in England. 48% said it hadn't.

  • Speaking about the transfer window, 50% of Newcastle United fans said that the dates should be revised so it opens when 2019/20 ends, and finishes when 2020/21 begins. 28% said to open it as usual but players can’t play for new clubs until 2020/21, 15% said to open it when 2019/20 ends, but keep it open for the whole 2020/21 season, and 8% said they don't know.