According to various sources, if the Premier League gets government approval to restart the season, the remaining 92 games will be played behind-closed-doors at neutral grounds.
At a four-hour shareholders’ meeting today, clubs were given an update on ‘Project Restart’ which included the draft medical protocol (leaked to the press yesterday) and the need to abandon home and away fixtures to minimise fans congregating outside arenas.
According to ESPN, a number of factors will decide whether a stadium is eligible to be used including the ability to secure its perimeter and local COVID-19 infection rates.
It has also been calculated that as many as 40,000 coronavirus tests could be required to ensure players are tested regularly enough to prevent the spread of infection.
After the meeting, the Premier League, who are increasingly aware of the potential friction of over-egging football’s return, released a tentative statement regarding next steps:
At a meeting of Premier League Shareholders today, clubs discussed possible steps towards planning to resume the 2019/20 season, when it is safe and appropriate to do so.
It was reiterated that the thoughts of all are with those directly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Furthermore, the Premier League’s priority is the health and safety of players, coaches, managers, club staff, supporters and the wider community.
The League and clubs are considering the first tentative moves forward and will only return to training and playing with Government guidance, under expert medical advice and after consultation with players and managers.
The League welcomed the creation of the Government medical working group for a return of elite sport, which met for the first time this morning.
No decisions were taken at today’s Shareholders’ meeting and clubs exchanged views on the information provided regarding “Project Restart”.
It was agreed that the PFA, LMA, players and managers are key to this process and will be further consulted.
The clubs reconfirmed their commitment to finishing the 2019/20 season, maintaining integrity of the competition and welcomed the Government’s support.
The BBC report that the plans presented in the meeting were received well by clubs who will reconvene for another video conference on Friday 8 May, after the government has updated the country on the lockdown situation.
In a separate statement, the Premier League and EFL confirmed an end to this season’s Academy football:
Premier League Shareholders today unanimously agreed to curtail the 2019/20 Academy Games Programme.
This decision, which is independent of any discussions regarding the resumption of the 2019/20 campaign for first-team football, has been taken to give Academy staff and their players clarity at this challenging time.
The curtailment will include all Under-9 to Under-16 games as well as the Under-18 and Under-23 competitions.
The methodology for determining the final league standings and outcomes for the season will be decided at a future date.
Additionally, it is intended that any fixtures for the 2020/21 Academy season will not commence any earlier than would usually be expected.
The decision has been made with the support of the EFL, which oversees the programme for Category Three and Category Four Clubs (Under-9 to Under-18).
Having earmarked August for the conclusion of the Europa League and Champions League, Uefa has asked its members to confirm before 25 May whether their respective domestic leagues will be concluded.
The Premier League has not set a date for its return but it’s widely believed they want matches to start taking place from early June.