Premier League Sets June 17 as Return Date as Contact Training Resumes

2nd June 2020
Credit: Liverpool FC

The English Premier League will resume on June 17, but there will be no fans in attendance. This will end a nearly four-month hiatus enforced to help curb the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic back in March.

Manchester vs Arsenal and Aston Villa vs Sheffield United will be the first two matches to be played in the league’s provisional return date. That’s in part because the four teams have one game in hand each.

The Premier League will then conduct a complete round of fixtures between June 19 and 21. The games will all be available on BBC Sport, Amazon Prime, BT Sport and Sky Sports. 

Safety Guidelines

June 17 is a provisional date that will only be used if the government confirms it will be safe to hold games indoors. On the flip side, clubs have set their eyes on July 25 to be the final date for all premier league matches.

  The league will allegedly test players twice a week as part of helping fight the COVID-19 pandemic. They will also direct clubs to minimize unnecessarily close contact between players. Where players test positive, they will be required to self-isolate for at least seven days.

Pundit Gary Neville recently told CNN that Premier League clubs must have made a lot of assurances to players. He believes this will be an ongoing process to help them adjust to the new way of training and playing.

“I think there’s had to be a lot of assurances, Neville said. “We’ve got to adapt to that, but ultimately, the player safety is paramount for me.”

Contact Training Resumes

Beginning May 29, Premier League players will be allowed to engage in contact training sessions, including tackling and group training. But as mentioned above, they will be encouraged to minimize unnecessary contacts. 

Training will continue despite the twelve positive cases confirmed after more than 2,700 samples taken as of May 28. This is a decision all stakeholders accepted unanimously:  clubs, managers, players and the government.

It’s understood plans to resume normal training are at advanced stages. This will help improve teams’ preparedness for competitive games in the next three weeks. The clubs began training mid-May, but contact was kept to a minimum until now.

A Boon for Sportsbooks

The Premier League’s return will come almost a month after Bundesliga resumed its fixtures. However, it will coincide with the return of Spain’s La Liga, which is scheduled to continue from June 20.

While the return of sports is a breath of fresh air to fans worldwide, it will also be a boon for sportsbook globally. For the past several months, many betting websites have had to scrap the bottom of sports barrels to stay afloat.

 Top bookmakers have been offering sports from all sorts of leagues worldwide. Some companies resulted in providing video game competitions and the weather. But the worst-hit websites shut down hoping to resume once the pandemic is over. 

   A Deserved Winner and Fair Demotions

The Premier League could have cancelled remaining fixtures and declared Liverpool the season’s winner. It could also have demoted the last three teams and promised to provide rebates for international broadcasters.

But the entire processed risked murky legal issues, talks of unfairness and a hit at its reputations. As a result, club owners and the league executives chose to complete the league regardless of the current climate.

Indeed, the benefits for completing the league outweigh the disadvantages by tens of millions of pounds. First off, Liverpool have a chance to win the remaining two games to lift their first Premier League title in 30 years. 

On the flip side, the remaining 19 clubs will fairly compete for a spot in European football or to avoid demotion. Business-wise, the league will be able to fulfil its broadcasting obligations with little or no legal issues. 

The FA Finals to be Held August-1

In the meantime, the Football Association have also agreed to complete the domestic competition on August 1. Quarterfinals will be held between June 27 and 28 if everything goes according to plans

The semi-finals will take place on July 11 and 12 at Wembley stadium. This will also be the hosting place for the finals.