The Premier League season is set to restart on June 17, and not June 12 as it was initially proposed. The restart is coming up three months after it was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, British media reported on Thursday (May 28).
No matches have been played since Leicester’s 4-0 win over Aston Villa on March 9, with Liverpool just two wins away from securing the title.
Top-flight clubs voted unanimously on Wednesday to return to contact training and were meeting again on Thursday to discuss issues such as the restart date and the rebate to broadcasters.
The BBC reported that the first two matches would be Aston Villa versus Sheffield United and Manchester City versus Arsenal. Those matches are the two games in hand.
A full fixture list would then be played on the weekend of June 19-21.
So far, 12 people have tested positive for coronavirus after 2,752 tests across the Premier League.
Germany’s Bundesliga resumed earlier this month and La Liga in Spain hopes to return from June 11, while a crucial summit between Italian football officials and the country’s sports minister will be held later on Thursday.
Liverpool were 25 points clear of 2019 champions Manchester City when the Premier league was shut down, on the verge of being crowned English champions for the first time in 30 years.
Bournemouth, Aston Villa and Norwich City are in the relegation places.
The leaders could clinch the title with victory in their first game back should second-placed Manchester City lose to Arsenal.
Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho spoke this week of his desperation to get playing again after seeing football resume elsewhere.
“Honestly, since the moment the Bundesliga started, the Portuguese league and Spanish league announced a date to start, I think it is the most difficult moment for us, because we want to play,” he told Sky Sports.
Some players have voiced fears over their safety and that of their families due to the virus.
Watford captain Troy Deeney has revealed that people have told him they want his baby son to contract coronavirus after he chose not to return to training.
“I saw some comments in regards to my son, people saying: ‘I hope your son gets corona’,” Deeney told CNN Sport.
“That’s the hard part for me. If you respond to that, people then go: ‘Ah, we’ve got him’ and they keep doing it.”
Deeney is understood to be due to resume training next week.