British culture secretary Oliver Dowden has confirmed that “good progress” is being made to restart the Premier League in mid-June.
Football has been put on hold around much of Europe since the middle of March due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has seen close to 250,000 people tested positive in the UK, with nearly 35,000 losing their lives.
With society beginning to open up after what is hoped to be the peak of the virus having passed, the Premier League is hoping to follow in the footsteps of the Bundesliga, which returned to the field over the weekend.
Dowden believes that there is scope for competitive action to being around the middle of June, though he stressed that not everything is in place yet to allow that to happen and that matches would take place in empty stadiums.
“I had some constructive discussions on Thursday with the FA, the EFL and the Premier League. We’re working hard with them to try to get it back,” he told Sky News.
“I am aiming for mid-June but the number one test is public safety. If we can do this in a safe way. They like other sports are looking at returning behind closed doors. We’ve met several times with Public Health England to look at the safety of that. If we can sort that out, we’ll look to resume by mid-June. We’re making good progress.
“I’m hoping we can have something a bit more ambitious, with free-to-air matches so people can watch from home. That would be helpful, in terms discouraging people from leaving their homes in order to watch it, which clearly we don’t want to happen, and also about how about how we support the wider support of football.
“What we’re aiming for – but we’re not quite there in terms of all the arrangements – is to finish the season behind closed doors from about mid-June onwards.”
Discussions are due to be held on Monday between Premier League clubs, who will vote on the prospect of stepping up training with a view to resuming action, with Raheem Sterling among those to suggest that around a month of work will be required before the game can restart.