The answer Newcastle United programme collectors have been waiting for ahead of Premier League restart
The Premier League season won’t go unfinished, but 2019/20 programme collections won’t be completed.
Newcastle United will resume their campaign on Sunday with a home game against Sheffield United after a 106-day hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic.
However, there will be no fans, no pints, no pies and no printed programmes inside St James’s Park, which last hosted a competitive fixture on February 29.
So much has happened off the pitch since Newcastle and Burnley played out a forgettable goalless draw that afternoon, and when Steve Bruce’s side finally return to the field, things just won’t be the same.
Buying a programme, of course, is a matchday ritual for many fans. The club’s programmes are diligently collected on Tyneside – and around the world.
Newcastle, however, have decided against printing programmes for retail and mail order sale for its remaining league and cup games, all of which are being televised live. Instead, United will produce a free, digital matchday programme for supporters.
There won’t be a print-run of programmes for hygiene reasons given the risk of passing coronavirus on through their distribution.
Even the distribution of teamsheets will be limited to a small number of broadcasters for the same reason. Most journalists at the stadium, which will be divided into red, amber and green zones, will get the team news digitally an hour before kick-off time at St James's Park.
This is the new normal, and, sadly, it could be many months before supporters will be able to add to their cherished printed programme collections.