The Premier League will end an absence of nearly 100 days from competitive soccer when the league’s 20 teams return for action June 17, according to multiple media outlets in London.
This is about as long as England — and the world, for that matter — has lived without its foremost soccer league since it launched in 1990. By comparison, last year’s scheduled offseason lasted 88 days, from Championship Sunday on May 12 to Liverpool FC’s opening win on Aug. 9 over Norwich City.
The last game played in the Premier League before the shutdown that resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic was a 4-0 Leicester City victory over Aston Villa.
All teams in the league have played 29 games except Manchester City and Arsenal, which are due to play one another, as are Sheffield United and Aston Villa. Those games are to be played June 17, according to The Telegraph, with the entire league returning the weekend of June 19-21.
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All games will be played at home grounds without fans in the stands; there had been a move to play the games at neutral sites because of concerns about fans congregating outside, but teams at the bottom of the standings pushed for the opportunity to play at their own stadiums and eventually won support from a majority of teams.
Competition ceased played with Liverpool just two victories short of clinching its first-ever Premier League title, with Manchester City, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Sheffield United trying to catch Chelsea for the final Champions League qualification spot and a relegation battle involving at least six teams: Brighton and Hove Albion (29 points), West Ham United, Watford and Bournemouth AFC (27 points), Aston Villa (25 points) and Norwich (21).
Liverpool will resume its title chase with a visit across the park to play Everton at Goodison Park. The exact schedule of games has not yet been released. If Arsenal were to upset Man City on the road, Liverpool would be in position to clinch the championship with a win on its rival’s turf.
“We all went through it together. We’re all hopefully stronger for it,” LFC star left back Andy Robertson told LiverpoolFC.com. “It’ll bring us even closer, as an already very close group.
“I love playing games with these lads, and I love being out there battling for a Premier League title. And that’s what we want to get back to.”
Clubs in the Premier League began working with government officials and the Football Association on “Project Restart” in late April. On May 11, UK authorities cleared the way for competition to begin as early as June 1, and a week later Premier League teams voted to allow teams to return to training in small groups.
They met again Thursday to discuss a return date.
Teams will have had a month back on the field when they return to competition. They were allowed to begin contact training Thursday.
Tests for the coronavirus have been conducted multiple times of players and staff, with only three positive results out of more than 1,000 in the most recent round of tests in England’s top leagues.