The UK government have revealed they held a “positive” meeting with the Premier League, English FA and the English Football League on Thursday as plans to restart the 2019-20 season continue to ramp up in England.
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UK Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Oliver Dowden provided the update, as the government have now agreed to pass things over to the soccer authorities to finalize the plans.
At present, Premier League clubs aim to return to group training on May 18 and restart games on June 12 but managers and players have yet to sign off the training and playing protocol handed to them over the last few days.
“Today’s positive meeting I hosted with the football authorities progressed plans for the resumption of the professional game in England,” Dowden said, via the Independent. “We all agreed that we will only go ahead if it is safe to do so and the health and welfare of players, coaches and staff comes first. The government is opening the door for competitive football to return safely in June.
“This should include widening access for fans to view live coverage and ensure finances from the game’s resumption supports the wider football family. It is now up to the football authorities to agree and finalize the detail of their plans, and there is combined goodwill to achieve this for their fans, the football community and the nation as a whole.”
Aside from ironing out any issues with the training protocols that players, managers and medical staffs have, one of the other main issues remaining is neutral stadiums.
Premier League chief executive Richard Masters revealed on Monday that he would speak with the government to ask if home and away games are possible rather than neutral venues. Speaking after a five-hour video conference call with all 20 Premier League clubs on Monday, Masters said that all clubs want to be able to play home and away games rather than at neutral venues as the government had previously requested.
With social distancing rules still in place in the UK, government and local police forces have been concerned about fans congregating outside stadiums if their teams are playing and celebrating victories.
It is believed Premier League clubs argued that would still be the case outside neutral venues and if local police forces are okay with home games going ahead, the Premier League will have cleared a huge hurdle in its restart plans.