The government has encouraged the Premier League and other sporting leagues to up their preparation for a return to action behind closed doors in order to lift the spirit of the general public.
Football has been suspended for seven weeks as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, and all divisions outside of the Football League have had their seasons declared null and void.
The Premier League has drawn up a plan branded ‘Project Restart’ – involving games being played in empty stadiums at a small number of venues – in a bid to get the season back up and running again.
According to a report in The Times, there has been a ‘significant shift’ in the government’s stance on the matter over the past few days.
The consensus is that the return of live sport would provide some much needed positivity and lift the national mood, and the government would be in favour of its return.
A multi-sport working group, consisting of members representing cricket, rugby and horse racing, in addition to football, are preparing a report on how live sport can resume safely.
Key to the process gaining momentum is a meeting between the chief medical officer and medical officers from across the various sports.
The Premier League’s ‘Project Restart’ consists of games being played behind closed doors at a small number of neutral venues. Up to 400 people, including broadcasting personnel, would potentially be permitted to attend each one
This demonstrates the league’s continued commitment to finish the season. Clubs could miss out on up to £1bn in collective losses if the campaign is cancelled.
Should the Premier League return in early June, this would include a three-week mini pre-season, where players would be training all together once more.
The government has granted clubs permission to allow players back to their training grounds, with Arsenal the first team to return on Monday.