English Premier League clubs on Thursday agreed to restart the season on June 17, provided that all safety requirements are in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Aston Villa v Sheffield United and Manchester City v Arsenal — both rearranged games — are due to take place on that date, the league said in a statement.
After those matches, all 20 clubs would have played 29 matches heading into the weekend of June 19 to 21, when the rest of the top flight is scheduled to be in action.
The last Premier League match before the shutdown was Leicester v Aston Villa on March 9, with all English professional soccer suspended four days later.
Premier League shareholders also approved a proposal that would see all 92 remaining matches broadcast live in the UK. Planned kickoffs would also differ from traditional times.
“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,” English Premier League chief executive Richard Masters said. “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.”
“Football is back soon,” England captain and Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane wrote on Twitter.
The restart date is conditional on top-level sport being given the green light to return by the British government.
“We are still working on govt guidance before we green light sports’ return,” British Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Oliver Dowden wrote on Twitter.
The Premier League suspended all fixtures in March after Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta and Chelsea winger Callum Hudson-Odoi tested positive for COVID-19.
Juergen Klopp’s Liverpool appear certain to be crowned English champions, but issues of relegation and European qualification still need to be resolved.
“WE. GO. AGAIN,” Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum wrote on Twitter. “We’ll miss having you with us at the stadiums, but we’ll do everything we can to make you proud.”
“It’s coming back, it’s coming back, it’s coming, football’s coming back,” former England striker Gary Lineker, now the presenter of the BBC’s Match of the Day, wrote on Twitter.
The Times reported that some “high risk” matches, such as a home fixture for Liverpool at Anfield that could see them clinch the title, could be moved to neutral venues to stop fans congregating outside grounds in defiance of disease prevention measures.
Liverpool are 25 points clear at the top of the Premier League, while AFC Bournemouth, Aston Villa and Norwich City are in the relegation places.
The leaders could clinch the title with victory in their first game back should second-placed Manchester City lose to Arsenal.
So far, just 12 people have tested positive for COVID-19 after 2,752 tests across the Premier League.
Some players have voiced fears over their safety and that of their families due to the coronavirus.
Watford captain Troy Deeney has revealed that people have told him they want his five-month-old son, who has breathing difficulties, to contract COVID-19 after he chose not to return to training.
“I saw some comments in regards to my son, people saying: ‘I hope your son gets corona,’” Deeney told CNN Sport. “That’s the hard part for me. If you respond to that, people then go: ‘Ah, we’ve got him’ and they keep doing it.”
Deeney is understood to have agreed to resume training next week.
Hong Kong media reported that police briefly detained a man in a Liverpool team jersey who shouted “long live Liverpool” during anti-government protests on Wednesday, over suspicion that he was inciting independence. In-Media reported that the man was across the street from police officers who were conducting stop-and-searches on a group of protesters, when he shouted: “Long live Liverpool.” Others reportedly cheered and joined in the chant, before officers detained him. The man told In-Media that police had accused him of inciting Hong Kong independence, which now is a punishable crime. He said that he has been a fan of the English soccer
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Raptors guard Fred VanVleet is already in Florida with the rest of his Toronto teammates, and he knows the time to take a stand and counter the NBA plan to restart the season has passed, but his opinion on the matter has not changed. “It sucks,” VanVleet said on Monday in a videoconference of his choice to return to the court during the COVID-19 pandemic and Black Lives Matter campaign. “It’s terrible timing, but that’s been 2020 for us. We all know the right thing to do is to not play, to take a stand. Morally, yes, that makes sense, but