While there are conflicts between clubs over the exact format to be used when the top flight resumes, it could be back as soon as next month
The UK government has cleared the Premier League and English Football League (EFL) to resume competitive action from June.
Professional football in England has been halted since March due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has claimed more than 33,000 deaths nationwide – a toll which ranks second behind the United States globally.
According to Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden, though, those in charge of the top tiers of the game are now free to start planning the leagues’ resumption.
”The Government is opening the door for competitive football to return safely in June,” Dowden signalled on Thursday following a video meeting with the chief executives of the Premier League, the EFL and Football Association. “This should include widening access for fans to view live coverage and ensure finances from the game’s resumption supports the wider football family.
“It is now up to the football authorities to agree and finalise the detail of their plans. There is combined goodwill to achieve this for their fans, the football community and the nation as a whole.”
The proposed return of the Premier League, dubbed ‘Project Restart’, has not been without its problems.
A significant number of clubs have opposed the plans to hold games behind closed doors at neutral venues, with Brighton chief Paul Barber prominent among them.
“Why can’t we make it happen in our country and finish the season the way it started?,” Barber told the Mirror in a recent interview. “From our point of view, we need to find out a bit more about why neutral venues were even put forward in the first place. Why are neutral venues so much safer than clubs being able to play in their own venues?”
Other observers have called into question the safety of players with cases still mounting in the United Kingdom; but Dowden assures football would only be allowed back if precautions are taken.
“The Government and our medical experts will continue to offer guidance and support to the game ahead of any final decision which would put these plans into action,” he added. “We all agreed that we will only go ahead if it is safe to do so and the health and welfare of players, coaches and staff comes first.”