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‘We think it’s safe to return’ – Premier League boss confident over June restart

3:23 PM EDT 5/22/20
Raheem Sterling, Man City, Gabriel Martinelli, Arsenal
Richard Masters, the CEO of the English top flight, believes that there is a safe setup that will allow players to return to action

Premier League chief executive Richards Masters says that the organisation is “as confident as we can be” about restarting the league in June.

Play has been suspended in England’s top flight since March 13 due to the coronavirus pandemic, during which more than 36,000 people in the UK alone have lost their lives.

June 12 has been earmarked as a potential date to begin football once again and Masters believes it's not overly optimistic to suggest that date, with clubs voting on Monday in favour of stepping up training with larger groups of players.

“There is some momentum. We've taken the first step,” Masters told BBC Sport, though he did warn that the Premier League will be “flexible” over the restart date.

“We wouldn't have taken the first step to get back to training if we weren't convinced we had created a very safe environment for our players.

“It is the first step and we have to be sure when we go to contact training we have completed those processes.”

Although some dissent has been voiced as to the return of the game, including from Watford captain Troy Deeney, who will not return to training, Masters is confident that the players are as safe as they possibly can be.

“We ran a very thorough consultation with club doctors,” he said. “We have done everything we possibly can to make return to training as safe as possible.

“We think it is safe to return. We have to respect players' decisions not to return to training. I would be comfortable to return to training.”

Meanwhile, there are still discussions taking place with the aim of playing “as much as possible at home and away venues,” despite fears of supporters gathering outside of grounds.

“We're talking to the authorities about that,” he said. “I do believe we can appeal to fans not to congregate outside football grounds or go to other people's houses to watch football matches in contravention of government guidelines.”

While football around much of the world has been in shutdown over the last two months, many leagues have plans to begin again in June, with play beginning in Germany’s Bundesliga last weekend.