Premier League football is poised to return after a three-month shutdown, with top-flight football in England provisionally set to resume on Wednesday June 17.
Aston Villa vs Sheffield United and Manchester City vs Arsenal are scheduled to be the first two games when the Premier League resumes next month.
Those two fixtures were originally postponed due to the EFL Cup Final and the rearranged Manchester City vs Arsenal game was due to be broadcast live on Sky Sports before the pandemic struck.
Every club will have played 29 PL games after the two matches are held on June 17.
The plan for football to resume behind closed doors awaits the green light from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and government.
Sky Sports News understands that stage three (the return to play aspect) of the DCMS’ guidance on the return of elite sport is still being finalised.
COVID-19 impact on football
March 5 – Pre-match handshakes banned in the Premier League.
March 11 – Man City v Arsenal is first Premier League game suspended; Liverpool v Atletico Madrid the last top level game played in England.
March 12 – Man Utd, Wolves play away Europa League ties behind closed doors, Rangers host Bayer Leverkusen in front of fans.
March 13 – Football suspended following an emergency meeting between PL, FA, EFL and WSL
April 15 – SPFL clubs approve plan to end the Scottish Championship, League One and league Two seasons.
May 15 – League Two clubs vote to end the season with immediate effect.
May 17 – Premier League players and staff tested for COVID-19.
May 18 – Scottish Premiership curtailed, with points per game determining league positions and Celtic named champions.
May 19 – Premier League clubs return to socially distanced group training.
May 25 – Women’s Super League cancelled, with title and relegation to be determined.
May 27 – Premier League clubs vote to resume contact training.
Football in England has been suspended since March 13 following an emergency meeting between the Premier League, Football Association, the English Football League and the Women’s Super League.
Thursday’s conference call was the second meeting of Premier League clubs in the last two days after they unanimously agreed to resume contact training.
There have been 12 positive results across the first three rounds of coronavirus testing at Premier League clubs. Four positive tests were announced on Wednesday evening.
‘As soon as a return to contact training had been approved unanimously by clubs, the next step was for a resumption of matches.
‘There has been a shift in perception in the couple of weeks that has been helped by the testing. The Premier League clubs have taken part in three rounds of testing and there have been 12 positives cases, but 99.5 per cent of those testing have returned negative results.
‘Every positive result will have to have been taken seriously, but the relatively low figures will have given a degree of confidence for those players and managers that they are returning to as safe an environment as possible.
‘A lot can happen in the next three weeks but what clubs now have is that definitive line in the sand, they know what they are aiming for in terms of Project Restart. In the case of four of those clubs, they are playing on June 17, with the rest taking part over the weekend of June 19, 20 and 21.
‘The expectation from the Premier League is that the remaining 92 fixtures will be completed in a six-week timeframe. A lot of other items remain under discussion, notably where all the fixtures will be played.
‘The Premier League are also discussing a Plan B – what happens if there is a second peak of the virus and those fixtures cannot be fulfilled at some point throughout June and July? But clubs have that June 17 target to focus on and that is what they will chase.’