Premier League plans June 17 restart
MANCHESTER, England (AP):
The English Premier League plans to restart on June 17 after a 100-day shutdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic, with new staggered kick-off times to make sure every game can be shown on TV as fans are prevented from attending games.
The clubs agreed yesterday that the competition should resume with a Wednesday night double-header, featuring Manchester City playing Arsenal and Aston Villa hosting Sheffield United - two games that were postponed during earlier rounds.
However, the league still needs formal approval from the government.
"This date cannot be confirmed until we have met all the safety requirements needed," Premier League Chief Executive Richard Masters said, "as the health and welfare of all participants and supporters is our priority."
After those make-up games are played, the 30th round will start on Friday, June 19, at 8 p.m. - if authorities approve safety plans.
"Positive to see further steps on the return of football today," Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden tweeted. "We are still working on gov't guidance before we green-light sports' return."
It's still unclear where games will be played when the league resumes. Police have said only neutral venues should be used, over concerns fans would congregate outside, but that plan was opposed by the 20 clubs.
The Premier League agreed to a government request for all remaining 92 fixtures to be aired live in Britain. Only 200 of the 380 games each season are normally broadcast live domestically, while all are available to be viewed internationally.
For the first time since the Premier League launched in 1992, games will be shown live by free-to-air broadcaster BBC, which has four of the remaining games.
Saturdays will see an additional late game start at 8 p.m. after fixtures at 12:30 p.m., 3 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. There will be a new early and late slot on Sundays of 12 p.m. and 7 p.m. between the usual 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. kick-offs. The Friday and Monday night games will be, as usual, at 8 p.m.
Midweek rounds will now see an earlier set of games at 6 p.m., followed by 8 p.m. kick-offs.
Liverpool is on the verge of winning the Premier League, sitting 25 points in front with nine games remaining.