Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke on Sunday and revealed the UK will not be coming out of lockdown until July 1 at the earliest, as a plan doesn’t appear to be in place for the Premier League season to return.
What does all of this mean ahead of a potentially pivotal week for the Premier League?
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke to the UK on Sunday in a vague, confusing statement which didn’t mention professional sports returning but did say that people who couldn’t work from home should return to work and sports was allowed but only with people from your own household.
“Sporting events behind closed doors for broadcast which I think would provide a much needed boost to national morale,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday.
However, more details have since emerged in a 50-page document released on Monday, with the note below most interesting to Premier League fans, clubs and players hoping of a restart soon as the league has been suspended since March 13: “Permitting cultural and sporting events to take place behind closed-doors for broadcast, while avoiding the risk of large-scale social contact.”
It is added that sporting and cultural events will not return before June 1, while it doesn’t seem like fans will be allowed to attend games anytime soon: “reopening…venues that attract large crowds (like sports stadia) may only be fully possible significantly later depending on the reduction in numbers of infections.”
The next Premier League club meeting will be on Monday, May 18 to try and move ‘Project Restart’ to the next phase and there could possibly be a vote on resuming the season by the end of this week. The 2019-20 campaign has been suspended since March 13 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
It is believed the plan is to resume group training on May 18 and games on June 12.
All 20 Premier League clubs have so far agreed that they want to finish the current season but only when things improve and it is safe to play again. Several clubs (Watford, Brighton and Aston Villa) have publicly opposed the plan to play the remaining 92 games of the 2019-20 Premier League season at neutral stadiums, and Premier League chief executive Richard Masters has revealed he will speak with the government to ask if home and away games are possible rather than neutral venues.
With some guidance from our friends at Sky Sports in the UK and other outlets on the situation, here’s a look at the road ahead this week as this feels like a pivotal seven days as to whether or not the Premier League resumes the current season.
Monday, May 11
Premier League clubs will meet on Monday to discuss any changes in the protocol after the government’s announcement. The plan is to try and figure out what will happen to players who are out of contract on July 1 (a possible vote will take place), plus any updates on how players and staff will be tested and give an overall guide as to what is coming up in a pivotal week.
Tuesday/Wednesday, May 12-13
Players and managers from Premier League clubs will discuss the plan as the current date to return to training is May 18 but that has yet to be ratified by the UK government health authorities. Several players have voiced their concerns about returning to training and games too early and the dangers that could possess. Players and managers will be given a voice about the plans.
Thursday, May 14
Premier League officials are set to meet with key UK government officials about various topics. From neutral stadiums to player welfare and testing procedures, the Premier League will gain as much information as possible to report back to clubs so they can plan ahead.
Monday, May 18
There is a Premier League owners meeting scheduled for this date. This is potentially D-Day for the Premier League as clubs could vote on several of the plans. It is expected clubs could vote on moving forward from each phase and on each topic, rather than on overall vote on what to do with the season. This all hinges on the UK government reaching the next phase of its lockdown on June 1 and July 1 as schools and businesses could reopen but the science will dictate what happens and when. There is also the chance lockdown measures will be put back in place if a second spike of cases arrive.
Monday, May 25
UEFA deadline for associations across Europe to set out their restart plans, so they can then announce their schedule for the UEFA Champions League, Europa League and other competitions. Those dates to finish those competitions for the 2019-20 season are expected to be announced on May 27.