English Premier League clubs have provisionally agreed to resume play from 17 June, 100 days since the competition was halted due to the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
Clubs met today (28 May) to discuss the details of the proposed return to action, before confirming that the season will resume provided all safety requirements can be put in place by that date.
“Today we have provisionally agreed to resume the Premier League on Wednesday 17 June,” Premier League chief executive Richard Masters said. “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.
The first two matches back will see Aston Villa take on Sheffield United, while Manchester City plays Arsenal, on 17 June. After these games have taken place, each club in the division will have played 29 times, and a full fixture list will return over 19-21 June.
There are a total of 92 games of the 2019-20 campaign still to play, with clubs reportedly keen to conclude the season by early August. The competition has been suspended since mid-March.
“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,” Masters added.
This will see all of the remaining matches broadcast live via the league's existing broadcast partners, Sky Sports, BT Sport, BBC Sport and Amazon Prime. Sky is to broadcast 64 of these games, of which 25 will be free-to-air, with four to be broadcast on the BBC – the first time the corporation will have shown full Premier League matches. BT has not said how many games it will show – or how many, if any, will be free-to-air – while Amazon is yet to confirm if its games will only be available to Prime subscribers.
“The Premier League and our clubs are proud to have incredibly passionate and loyal supporters,” Masters continued. “It is important to ensure as many people as possible can watch the matches at home.
“We will continue to work step-by-step and in consultation with all our stakeholders as we move towards resuming the 2019/20 season.”
The planned kick-off times in the UK for live matches will also differ from the traditional times, in order to ensure all can be broadcast.
Yesterday (27 May), clubs unanimously voted to resume contact training, with the move also approved by players, managers, the Professional Footballers’ Association, League Managers Association and the UK government.
Last week, stakeholders also approved a return to small-group training, with players having already been permitted to begin training alone at club facilities.
Premier League players and staff will continue to be tested for Covid-19 at least twice a week, with testing capacity also being increased following the return to contact training. Anyone who tests positive must self-isolate for a minimum of seven days.
Liverpool currently sit top of the league, 25 points ahead of Manchester City, and had been on course to win the Premier League for the first time.
Football governing bodies in Italy and Spain also announced their intentions to complete the 2019-20 season, while Germany’s Bundesliga resumed matches behind closed doors earlier this month.