Football

English Premier League season to restart on June 17, reports

Meeting of clubs yesterday reveals Villa v Sheffield United & Man City v Arsenal as opening matches

The English Premier League season is set to restart on June 17, three months after it was suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic, British media reported yesterday.

A spokesman for the EPL declined to comment as the meeting of 20 club officials was ongoing.

The season, with 92 fixtures still to play, will get underway on the Wednesday date with Aston Villa v Sheffield United and Manchester City v Arsenal, which are both games in hand.

A full fixture list would then be played on the weekend of June 19-21, the report said.

However, all games will be played behind closed doors.

On the news, BBC pundit and former England player Gary Lineker tweeted: "It's coming back, football's coming back. June 17."

The EPL was suspended on March 13 due to the coronavirus pandemic, but teams returned to small group training last week as "Phase One" of EPL's "Project Restart".

On Wednesday, clubs agreed to move to "Phase Two" of the comeback with players working in larger groups and closer to one another.

Newcastle were the first team to publish pictures of their first-team stars in contact training.

The 20 clubs were still discussing the idea at a meeting last night, but it is understood all have agreed in principle at this stage.

So far, 12 people have tested positive for coronavirus after 2,752 tests across the league.

EPL players and staff will continue to be tested twice a week, with the capacity increased from 50 to 60 tests per club for the fourth round of testing.

Any player or staff to test positive must self-isolate for a period of seven days.

EPL champions-elect Liverpool, searching for their first league title in 30 years, lead the standings by 25 points.

The Reds could clinch it by winning their first game back should second-placed Manchester City be beaten by Arsenal on June 17. - REUTERS

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