The English Premier League could be back in action by 8 June subject to government approval, claims The Times, and dependent on the containment of the coronavirus.
There are nine rounds of matches left to be played and despite rumours last week of despondency within some clubs that the season would be completed, fresh impetus has come from the government which recognises that the nation’s spirits need lifting.
Apparently “ministers and staff recognise the need for some positivity during this lockdown”, and sport is seen as one of the most effective morale boosters. Tests needed
Nonetheless, the logistics and more importantly, the health requirements, needed to reassure participants are numerous, and the Times says that football will restart “only when Covid-19 tests are readily available”.
The Premier League has presented government officials with what it calls “Project Restart”, which has 8 June as the date to relaunch the season.
Matches will be played only at “approved stadiums”, while squads would stay at hotels that had also been carefully selected and screened by health officials. These would be deep cleaned after every check out.
It may be that not all 20 Premier League grounds will be deemed suitable to stage matches and so matches will be played in a limited number.
This has the potential to create controversy and discussions will continue at the next shareholders’ meeting on 1 May, “with a decision reached based on guidance from the government, the police and the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies”. Ramped up
The Premier League believes that it is feasible to finish the season by 27 July and then launch the 2020-21 season on 22 August. However, that could prove problematic for clubs still involved in European competitions with Uefa mooting the idea last week of completing the Champions League and Europa League matches in August.
Talks will be “ramped up” this week between government officials, the clubs and the Premier League, and according to the Times the first of these will be hosted by Public Health England and the chief medical officer’s office.
If the league does restart on 8 June it will have been 13 weeks since the shutdown began, which is the longest hiatus in English football since the Second World War.