Premier League to return on June 17 amid coronavirus
10:34 AM ET
  • James OlleySenior Writer, ESPN FC

The Premier League is set to resume on June 17 after the clubs gave “Project Restart” the green light at a shareholders’ meeting on Thursday.

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The league announced that Manchester City vs. Arsenal and Aston Villa vs. Sheffield United will be the first fixtures, taking all teams to 29 matches played. The remaining 90 games will then continue on June 19, preceding a full match round programme.

Due to COVID-19, games will take place behind closed doors. It has yet to be confirmed whether matches will be held at neutral venues.

Premier League Chief Executive Richard Masters said: “Today we have provisionally agreed to resume the Premier League on Wednesday 17 June. But this date cannot be confirmed until we have met all the safety requirements needed, as the health and welfare of all participants and supporters is our priority.

”Sadly, matches will have to take place without fans in stadiums, so we are pleased to have come up with a positive solution for supporters to be able to watch all the remaining 92 matches.

“The Premier League and our clubs are proud to have incredibly passionate and loyal supporters. It is important to ensure as many people as possible can watch the matches at home.

“We will continue to work step-by-step and in consultation with all our stakeholders as we move towards resuming the 2019/20 season.”

The league’s aim is to complete all fixtures by Aug. 1. After that date, the FA Cup can then be completed — with the final anticipated on Aug. 8 — in addition to the remaining Champions League and Europa League fixtures, assuming the coronavirus pandemic has subsided to the extent international travel is allowed.

A variety of topics were discussed at Thursday’s meeting including the possibility of staging friendlies at training grounds with teams in close proximity, minimising travel and therefore any further spread of the coronavirus.

Several clubs are thought to have expressed a desire for four more weeks’ preparation having only approved contact training in a vote on Wednesday, but the league’s desire to resume sooner in addition to pressure from UEFA to complete domestic matches by the beginning of August forced a compromise.

The Premier League was suspended on March 13 with the last game, Leicester’s 4-0 win over Aston Villa, played on March 9.

A total of 100 days will have passed by the time matches resume behind closed doors with opposition from players subsiding after three rounds of tests totalling 2,752 people yielded just 12 positive cases.

Testing capacity will be increased from 50 to 60 per club with anyone testing positive for COVID-19 asked to self-isolate for seven days.

Liverpool, without a league title since 1990, lead the Premier League table by 25 points ahead of nearest challengers Manchester City.

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