Tarak Malhotra Staff reporter, The Pawprint
“The British sporting recovery has begun,” said the culture secretary, Oliver Dowden, as he announced that professional sport in England can resume from Monday, paving the way for the first domestic sports to be played in almost three months. “I can now make it official: football is coming back,” declared Dowden.
After a coronavirus test from over 1,100 Premier League players and staff came back negative, tensions regarding the continuation of the league began to ease. However, the EFL followed up with results of its own, reporting 10 positive tests from eight clubs in the Championship. However, the Championship will be returning on the 20th of June, just three days after the first Premier League games that are to be played on the 17th.
On the 17th, Aston Villa will host Sheffield United and Manchester City will welcome Arsenal. There are still 92 matches left to be played, all behind closed doors. These are all to be played at the clubs’ normal stadiums, but there are discussions of a ‘neutral venue’ being used to host larger, more important games. These could include the major London derbies or Liverpool’s trip to Goodison Park to play Everton or to the Etihad to face Manchester City. As for the staggered timings of the games, Games on a Friday will kick off at 8pm, while on Saturday the slots will be 12.30pm, 3pm, 5.30pm and 8pm. Sunday matches will kick off at 12pm, 2pm, 4.30pm and 7pm, with Monday games starting at 8pm. Finally, games on Tuesdays and Wednesdays will kick off at either 6pm or 8pm.
The last Premier League match before the shutdown was Leicester vs Aston Villa on March 9. Manchester City vs Arsenal was the first Premier League fixture to be postponed on Wednesday, March 11 after Mikel Arteta tested positive for coronavirus. However, players have been in training since May, with full contact only recently being permitted, in early June.
The ‘null and voiding’ of the 19/20 Premier League season has since been put out of question, as a cancellation could cost the FA upwards of one billion pounds in revenue.