The UK government have confirmed that the Premier League will be free to return on 1 June as long as the coronavirus crisis remains manageable.
The league has been postponed since mid-March after high-profile figures like Mikel Arteta and Callum Hudson-Odoi tested positive for the virus, and officials are constantly working to try to find a plan to return.
One of the obstacles was finding a time to actually come back, with the idea always being to wait until the government deem it safe to do so. As noted by The Independent, the Premier League has now been granted permission to return after 1 June.
As part of the government’s 50-page strategy to return to normality, sport will be permitted to return behind closed doors from the start of June, assuming all parties follow safety protocols and the risk of contracting the virus continues to drop.
That’s all well and good, but the Premier League now need to find a way to actually structure games when they do eventually return.
One of the biggest points of contention is the use of neutral venues to finish the season. Earlier reports have revealed that Brighton, West Ham, Watford, Bournemouth, Aston Villa and Norwich are eager to see relegation scrapped if they have to play at neutral venues, so there’s a real debate going on.
14 of the 20 Premier League teams need to vote in favour of using neutral venues for it to be made official, and with at least six sides currently opposed to the idea, it’s up in the air whether or not the idea will be approved.
You’ve then got the idea of player safety to contend with, as well as the safety of non-playing staff and any medical staff which have to attend the games.
The only thing which seems more certain is that fans will be kept away for a while. The idea of reopening businesses like cinemas and hairdressers on 4 July is suggested by the government, but only if social distancing can be adhered to.
Stadiums could be partially opened at some point down the line, but welcoming a full crowd is too big of a risk.
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