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Government now push hard for Premier League return

5 months ago
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It is now 57 days since we last saw Premier League football.

Leicester hammering Aston Villa 4-0 on Monday 9 March 2020.

Since then, we have seen an ongoing series of meetings and announcements as the Premier League continues to look at the potential of when and how the remaining games of the 2019/20 season can be played out.

Government support is of course essential for any country where football authorities are looking to finish this season off.

The end of April saw the French government force the end of the Ligue 1 (and Ligue 2) season prematurely and now they are having to face the consequences. Massive financial implications and impending legal challenges from certain clubs, those unhappy with the use of average points per game played to produce final league tables that dictated champions, European qualification, promotion and relegation.

However, in the four biggest European leagues (England, Italy, Germany, Spain) it is a different story, with governments all supportive of football returning as soon as possible when it is deemed on balance the right time.

The Bundesliga are the most advanced and players have been back in training for a number of weeks now, Angela Merkel is expected to announce today on what date German football will restart this month.

The UK government have consistently said they are keen to see the Premier League restart and finish this season off.

On Sunday the government will announce measures for easing lockdown and is expected to give the go ahead for when the Premier League can be allowed to potentially start playing again, as well as guidance for other sports. That Boris Johnson announcement has been put back from this midweek and so the Premier League pushed their meeting back as well, to Monday. At that PL meeting, the government update will then be used to help inform decisions and a vote will be held on a planned return of Premier League football. There are rumblings of discontent from some clubs with regards to using neutral grounds and wanting the threat of relegation removed, the usual PL rules are that at least 14 clubs must back any decision.

Ahead of Sunday’s Boris Johnson anticipated announcement and Monday’s PL meeting, Dominic Raab has strongly indicated what Sunday’s message for PL football is set to be.

At Tuesday’s public virus briefing, the Foreign Secretary talking up the idea of Premier League football resuming ASAP, with the usual caveats of when medical advice etc allows. With clubs probably needing their players back in training for up to a month to prepare for any potential playing return, assuming Sunday’s message is positive, that would point to mid-June as a likely return of Premier League football but behind closed doors of course.

Dominic Raab:

“I think it would lift the spirits of the nation.

“I think people would like to see us get back, not just to work and get to a stage where children can safely return to school, but also enjoy some of those pastimes – sporting in particular.

“I know that the Government has had constructive meetings with sports bodies to plan for athletes to resume training when it’s safe to do so.

“I can tell you that the Culture Secretary has also been working on a plan to get sports played behind closed doors when we move to the second phase, that is something I can tell you we’re looking at.

“Whether it’s a combination of test, tracking, tracing and other social distancing measures within what’s possible within a sporting environment, we want to see whether behind closed doors, what the options are for doing that.

“Of course, the key point though is, we can only do it when the medical advice and scientific advice is that it can be done safely and sustainably, but certainly that is something under active consideration.”

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