The Premier League has been given the go-ahead to resume behind closed doors from June 1 by the United Kingdom government, it was announced on Monday.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson set out a road map to ease lockdown restrictions during the coronavirus crisis on Sunday evening and a full report has since been released.
The 50-page document includes “permitting cultural and sporting events to take place behind closed-doors for broadcast, while avoiding the risk of large-scale social contact,” but this cannot happen before June 1.
Entitled “Our Plan to Rebuild: The UK Government’s Covid-19 Recovery Strategy,” the document says lockdown measures will only be eased once certain measures have been met.
In any case, no spectators will be allowed at matches should the Premier League return, with the league’s 20 clubs set for a vote on whether to resume the season in the next few days.
England’s top division has been suspended since March 13 and there is, as yet, no consensus surrounding how, or if, the 2019-20 season will start. There are still 92 Premier League fixtures to be played, with clubs now back in training at training grounds, albeit while observing the government’s social distancing guidelines.
Fans in football stadiums “may only be fully possible significantly later depending on the reduction in numbers of infections,” the report states.
“Some venues which are, by design, crowded and where it may prove difficult to enact distancing may still not be able to reopen safely at this point, or may be able to open safely only in part.”
Clubs are split about the prospect of the Premier League returning, with a majority of 14 votes from the division’s 20 teams required to pass any decision. The Premier League were not immediately available for comment following the publication of the government’s report.
England’s top division and other leagues around Europe have until May 25 to outline to UEFA their detailed plans to start football matches again. The Bundesliga will become Europe’s first major football league to resume during the coronavirus pandemic when it starts again this weekend.