May 15 – The Premier League’s plans to resume the season next month have been given a boost with Britain’s Culture and Sport secretary Oliver Dowden saying the government was “opening the door” for football to return in June behind closed doors with the possibility of more accessibility to armchair fans.
Mass gatherings are still banned and fans are not allowed to attend sports events but the Premier League needs to complete its season in order to fulfil lucrative broadcasting contracts.
“The government is opening the door for competitive football to return safely in June,” Dowden said after talks with the football authorities. “This should include widening access for fans to view live coverage and ensure finances from the game’s resumption supports the wider football family.”
“It is now up to the football authorities to agree and finalise the detail of their plans, and there is combined goodwill to achieve this for their fans, the football community and the nation as a whole.”
“The government and our medical experts will continue to offer guidance and support to the game ahead of any final decision which would put these plans into action.”
Britain reported another 428 corona-related deaths in its daily update on Thursday, bringing the total to 33,614. In Italy and Spain, the lockdown was only eased after far fewer additional daily fatalities and there are fears that allowing football to resume in the UK in early June will prove too risky.
“What if we go through all this rigmarole of trying to get back started, and we have a second peak and we’re stopped anyway?” Brighton striker Glenn Murray told Sky. “I just can’t understand after just sort of loosening the lockdown why we’re in such a rush to get it back. Why can’t we just wait sort of a month or so to see if things go to plan?”
England’s deputy chief medical officer, Jonathan Van-Tam, cautioned that a phased return of training will be carefully monitored before public health authorities “even think about moving on to the return of competitive football matches. We have to be slow. We have to be measured.”
Contact the writer of this story at firstname.lastname@example.org