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Korean glimpse of future

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STERILE: Lee Dong-gook celebrates scoring the winner. Pic: Reuters

STERILE: Lee Dong-gook celebrates scoring the winner. Pic: Reuters

REUTERS

STERILE: Lee Dong-gook celebrates scoring the winner. Pic: Reuters

The Premier League got a glimpse of what the future might hold after football finally returned with the start of the South Korean K-League on Friday.

It was football, but just not as we know it as reigning champions Jeonbuk Motors beat Suwon Bluewings 1-0 in an empty World Cup Stadium in Jeonju in the season opener.

There were no supporters, face masks were required for those not playing - including substitutes, managers and ball boys - and players were restricted from talking to the match officials, shaking hands and spitting excessively.

It was a sterile atmosphere in the first half, with the players' shouts echoing in the empty 42,000-seater arena.

But with Jeonbuk chasing a goal in the second half, artificial crowd noise was pumped through the public address system, which did at least give some sense of atmosphere.

When Lee Dong-Gook headed home the winner in the 84th minute, Jeonbuk's players celebrated with a hand signal to give thanks to their country's health workers, with more crowd noise and music blaring out.

At the full-time whistle Jeonbuk boss Jose Morais, formerly Jose Mourinho's assistant, did not shake the hands of his opposite number or staff, instead settling on elbow and fist bumps.

If 'Project Restart' gets the go-ahead, which could be on Monday, then this is what the Premier League might look like in the immediate future.