The EPL has been suspended since mid-March.PHOTO: EPA

EPL announces June 17 restart

The English Premier League season will restart on June 17, provided all safety requirements have been put in place, the league said on Thursday (May 28), after meeting with all 20 clubs.

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.

“Today we have provisionally agreed to resume the Premier League on Wednesday 17 June. But this date cannot be confirmed until we have met all the safety requirements needed, as the health and welfare of all participants and supporters is our priority,” said EPL chief executive Richard Masters.

Failure to resume the season could cost the league around £750 million (S$1.3 billion) in lost revenue from broadcasters, according to British media estimates.

“Sadly, matches will have to take place without fans in stadiums, so we are pleased to have come up with a positive solution for supporters to be able to watch all the remaining 92 matches,” said Masters.

“The Premier League and our clubs are proud to have incredibly passionate and loyal supporters. It is important to ensure as many people as possible can watch the matches at home,” he added.

Given the additional number of live games on television, the league said kick-offs would “differ from the traditional times”.

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.

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