It’s official: English Premier League sets return date in June
The English Premier League, the world’s most-watched sports league, set a provisional restart date in June for its coronavirus-interrupted season.
In a statement Wednesday, the soccer league confirmed its intention to return on June 17 with a match between clubs Aston Villa and Sheffield United, as well as a high-profile clash between league standouts Manchester City and Arsenal. A full game week involving the remainder of the league’s 20 teams would then commence the weekend of Friday, June 19.
The matches would be played behind closed doors with no fans in an effort to maintain social distancing. Germany’s top soccer league, Bundesliga, implemented the same policy when it restarted its season earlier this month.
The Premier League is just about three-quarters into the 2019–20 season, with 92 total games spread across the league remaining. Premier League shareholders approved a proposal that will see each of these matches broadcast live in the U.K. by the league’s existing broadcast partners: Sky Sports, BT Sport, BBC Sport, and Amazon Prime. (Fortune has reached out to NBCUniversal, which broadcasts games in the U.S. via the NBC Sports Network, for comment on its broadcast plans.)
In a statement, Premier League chief executive Richard Masters stressed that the June 17 return date remains provisional. “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,” Masters said.
The tentative return adds to a building movement of sports leagues aiming to relaunch following worldwide lockdowns implemented to curb the spread of COVID-19. In the U.S., the NHL recently announced plans to return for a tournament-style playoff starting no later than July 1. Meanwhile, the NBA is in talks with Disney to restart its season at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando in July.
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