English Premier League to return in June
Football – Premier League – Manchester United v Watford – Old Trafford, Manchester, Britain – February 23, 2020, General view of a match ball held by Manchester United’s David de Gea during the warm-up before the match. [Photo: Reuters/Lee Smith]

The British government has given the green light for English football to return in June.

Britain’s Culture and Sport secretary Oliver Dowden said on Thursday the government was “opening the door” for football to return after it was shut down in March over the coronavirus pandemic.

Dowden revealed he had a meeting with stakeholders from the Premier League, Football Association and the English Football League to decide the way forward.

“We all agreed that we will only go ahead if it is safe to do so and the health and welfare of players, coaches and staff comes first.

“The government is opening the door for competitive football to return safely in June. This should include widening access for fans to view live coverage and ensure finances from the game’s resumption supports the wider football family.”

Dowden pointed out that it now the duty of football authorities to give guidance on how competitions should resume.

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“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,” Dowden noted.

England’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jonathan Van-Tam, however, indicated the return of football will depend on how players fare after group training sessions.

“There will be small, carefully measured step-wise approaches to seeing what can be achieved safely.

“The first of those is to return to safe training, still observing social distancing. Plans are being put in place at quite some depth to do that and that will be a step-wise thing.

“We’ll have to see how that goes before we even think about moving on to the return of competitive football matches. We have to be slow and we have to be measured,” said Jonathan Van-Tam.

The COVID-19 pandemic that has killed over 33,100 people in the United Kingdom.

When Premier League players return to training, they will have to abide by a strict set of rules.

According to English news outlets, all 20 Premier League clubs have reportedly received 40-page-document outlining official training protocols, with a condensed eight-page document from the PFA (Professional Footballers’ Association).

Social-distancing distancing has been heavily-emphasised on, with disinfection of playing surfaces including corner-flags, cones, goalposts and balls recommended after every training session.

AFP and the BBC report players will be subjected to two weekly testings, temperature checks as well as filling a questionnaire.

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