Aston Villa and Sheffield United re-started the Premier League on Wednesday after a 100-day hiatus caused by the COVID-19 health crisis with a strong statement of support for the worldwide protests against racism.

All the players’ names on the back of their shirts were replaced with the words ‘Black Lives Matter’ as the Premier League formally joined the international protest campaign sparked by the death of George Floyd in America.

The players, and referee Michael Oliver, also took a knee as the opening whistle was blown, following a moment’s silence before kick off in memory of those who died in the pandemic.

It was an unusual step from the governing body which usually insists players refrain from overtly political statements but which has supported previous efforts to rid the game of racism.