Following the long discussion and the rollout of testing among the players and staff, the Premier League will officially return after a 100 days hiatus “provided that all safety requirements are in place”. The English top-flight has announced its provisional return on June 17 behind closed doors. Two matches will reportedly be played, with Sheffield United hosting Aston Villa and Manchester City hosting Arsenal.
“Today we have provisionally agreed to resume the Premier League on Wednesday 17 June. But this date cannot be confirmed until we have met all the safety requirements needed, as the health and welfare of all participants and supporters is our priority,” Premier League chief executive Richard Masters said in a statement. EPL has been halted indefinitely since mid-March due to the pandemic.
“Sadly, matches will have to take place without fans in stadiums, so we are pleased to have come up with a positive solution for supporters to be able to watch all the remaining 92 matches. The Premier League and our clubs are proud to have incredibly passionate and loyal supporters. It is important to ensure as many people as possible can watch the matches at home,” Masters added.
With most sides having nine or ten games remaining, the league is hoping to play the remaining 90 games starting the following weekend, so that they finish the season by August 1. The FA Cup will be completed then, with the final taking place on Aug. 8. The last fixture was played by Leicester City against Aston Villa on March 10 and was initially postponed until at least April 4.
“We will continue to work step-by-step and in consultation with all our stakeholders as we move towards resuming the 2019-20 season,” Masters said. The remaining Champions League and Europa League fixtures are expected to be slated after the domestic leagues, expecting lighter restrictions from traveling. A full round of matches is scheduled for the weekend of June 19-21.
Similarly to football in Germany, which returned a few weeks ago, there will be restriction and health protocols that need to be addressed to continue further with the games, including the absence of fans in attendance as mentioned in the statement. Hence, league shareholders have approved a proposal that would see all remaining matches broadcast live in the UK instead.
As of this week, there have only been 12 positive cases of the virus out of the 2,752 people tested. Reports claim that testing capacity will increase from 50 to 60 people per club, whereas anyone who tests positive from the virus will be asked to self-isolate for seven days. The resumption of matches is subjected to protocols that needed to be agreed upon.
The eventual champions, Liverpool are two wins away from claiming a historic title, ending its 30-year drought. The Reds are 25 points ahead of second-placed Manchester City. Kick-off times in the UK for live matches will also differ from the traditional times. Clubs resumed training last week were allowed to begin contact training this week.
Meanwhile, the Bundesliga, resumed action on May 16 with no fans, have not reported virus-related cases since it resumed. Italy’s Serie A, suspended last March 9, also announced its return on 20 June, the country’s sports minister Vincenzo Spadafora has confirmed. Juventus leads the table by a point with 12 rounds of matches remaining.