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Premier League hopeful of a mid-June return following latest meeting

Harvey Barnes

The Premier League is in advanced talks with the Government regarding a potential return in June. 

Top-flight football in England was grinded to a halt in March, as the Government attempted to limit the spread of coronavirus. Initially, football was paused until 3 April, but that date was further pushed back to 30 April by the Premier League and FA. 

That ambitious return date was never expected to come to fruition, however, with most understanding that it will in fact be quite some time before we see the return of Premier League football this year.

Now, after an emergency meeting held last Friday, it appears that the Premier League have reached advanced stages of talks with the Government which could see the top-flight return, behind closed doors, in June. 

Health officials are hopeful that the coronavirus pandemic in England will spike during the upcoming weeks and then start to steadily deteriorate. 

The Government also believes that the effects of people following the strict social distancing guidelines laid out will start to show positive results in late-April, meaning normality can slowly begin to resume during the summer.

Should this happen, there is even a small chance of Premier League football being able to continue with fans in attendance. That still seems like a longshot, though, with it more than probable that the rest of the campaign will be finalised in empty stadiums to keep the situation as safe as humanly possible.

League officials also discussed extensive measures to keep players in a sterile environment. This included the use of World Cup-style training bases situated in the Midlands, which would see players and coaching staff train and live in segregation from the public until the end of the season to avoid the chance of contracting the virus. 

One major concern with playing games behind closed doors is the possibility of diehard fans breaking lockdown rules to follow their team around the country, despite not actually being able to enter any stadiums. 

In an attempt to combat this, ongoing talks between TV companies and the Premier League regarding the amount of games being screened continue to progress. 

Currently, Sky and BT both have the rights to air a number of remaining top-flight fixtures, but not all of them. Both are expected to see an increase in the amount of live matches they can show if the Premier League does return behind closed doors in June, while there is also hope that some games will be made available for terrestrial TV channels like the BBC and ITV. 

The resumption of European competitions such as the Champions League and Europa League could be scheduled for August, as Uefa ramp up talks on how they can complete the two prestigious tournaments in time. If this plan does come into play, it is likely that the start of next season would be delayed until mid-September.

At the moment, these proposed plans are all reliant on the coronavirus situation in England drastically improving. The safety and wellbeing of everyone is of course paramount, and the Premier League have insisted that if the Government advise that it is not safe for football to return then it will not do so. 

Indeed, there is a substantial degree of confidence that we will start to see significant benefits from the recent lockdown, and that in the coming weeks and months the country’s infection rate will consequently decrease, which would allow football to make its anticipated return.

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