Premier League targets a return behind closed doors in June
The Premier League is targeting a return in June this year behind closed doors. Notably, EPL has the backing of the government. All 20 clubs will be holding their latest conference call on Friday, knowing that the country's political leaders are also keen for the season to resume when possible. Here are further updates on the same.
As per Sky Sports, the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Secretary Oliver Dowden said in the House of Commons: "I personally have been in talks with the Premier League, with a view to getting football up and running as soon as possible in order to support the whole football community." "But, any such moves would have to be consistent with public health guidance."
The English top-flight was earlier suspended since mid-March because of the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, which has claimed 211,662 lives globally. Meanwhile, the UK has seen over 21,000 deaths. The target for EPL is to be back in action as early as June 8 to have the 2019-20 season concluded by the end of July. However, football will be played behind closed doors.
The Premier League, along with other sporting activities, will have to meet specific criteria before a return. There need to be testing arrangements for participants, paid by sporting authorities or clubs, and ensuring measures are in place to avoid fans gathering outside matches. Also, whether games will resume at approved stadiums, or at a neutral venue, will need to be discussed.
Gary Neville warned footballers to "get their heads around" the idea of playing behind closed doors. "It's going to be strange," Neville said on The Football Show. "It's an awful experience when you are used to playing in front of big crowds. But we are going to be playing behind closed doors probably into next year. We have to get our heads around that."
The likes of Arsenal, Everton and West Ham allowed players to return to their training grounds, however, they were asked to follow social distancing norms. Italy, which has been badly impacted by the pandemic, hasn't set a return frame for the Serie A. In Germany, the Bundesliga is aiming to kick off again on May 9 pending government approval.