May 28, 2020
The Premier League will return from Wednesday 17 June 2020, three months after the league was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Bundesliga has already returned with all teams playing three matches so far and La Liga in Spain is due to return on the 8 June. It will be good to see live English football once more.
At the time football was suspended, there were 92 matches remaining of the season, including two matches that were postponed for different reasons. These two matches will be played on the 17 June; Manchester United versus Arsenal and Aston Villa versus Sheffield United. The following weekend will see all teams return to action.
It is expected that matches will be played in the sequence they would have been played if the season had not been suspended, other than matches in the Emirates FA Cup, the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Europa League, which is still awaiting confirmation on what will happen with the cup competitions.
United’s first match back will be against Tottenham Hotspur. It is not yet known whether the behind closed doors matches will be played at neutral venues or in the clubs home stadiums, as they would have been played before the coronavirus pandemic hit the country and the rest of the world. I presume that will be made know at a later date.
There is currently an ongoing meeting between the Premier League and all clubs, which is expected to ratify everything involved, however, it has been suggested that the return of the league on the date mentioned involved a majority of clubs involved in the league. It has been suggested that Friday night football could be reserved for EFL matches.
However, United versus Spurs could be played on Friday 19 June, which is a match that has long been awaited and will be much different considering the players, from both teams, who were injured and out of the fixture on the original date, now being fit and eligible to play. It will surely be a good match of football with both teams needing a win.
The television rights will be something that will need to be ratified too, with 47 of the remaining 92 matches originally due to be aired on Sky Sports and BT Sport, with 45 matches to be split between Sky (32), BT (eight) then the remaining five between Amazon and possibly a free-to-air channel, such as the BBC.
Players in the league have been tested in recent weeks, before the return to training. In the latest round of testing, which included 1,008 players, staff and personnel – four positive results were found. In total, over the three rounds of testing, 2,700 tests have been done with a 0.004% ratio of positive tests. The Premier League said in a statement:
“Premier League shareholders today voted unanimously to resume contact training, marking another step towards restarting the Premier League season, when safe to do so.
“Squads are now able to train as a group and engage in tackling while minimising any unnecessary close contact.
“The Premier League’s priority is the health and wellbeing of all participants.
“Strict medical protocols are in place to ensure the training ground is the safest environment possible and players and staff will continue to be tested for Covid-19 twice a week.
“Stage Two of the Return to Training protocol has been agreed following consultation with clubs, players, managers, the PFA, LMA and the Government.
“Discussions are ongoing as work continues towards resuming the season, when conditions allow.”
United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be looking forward to returning back to the dug out, guiding his team to glory this season. A place in the UEFA Champions League is still up for grabs with United sitting in fifth place in the league, and if Manchester City’s ban from Europe is upheld, could achieve that from where they are now.
However, Solskjaer will be seeking to see his side rise into the top four of the table. There is still a chance to qualify for the Champions League by winning the Europa League, however, that is expected to take place in August, at this moment in time, as a standalone tournament after the league season has been competed.
Solskjaer will be boosted with the return from injury of both Marcus Rashford, the clubs top scorer with 19 goals in all competitions this season, and Paul Pogba, the clubs record signing. It would be good to see what Pogba and January signing, Bruno Fernandes can do in United’s midfield, a lot of attention was paid to the duo training together.