The English Premier League could return from its coronavirus-caused shutdown as early as next month after the United Kingdom’s government said Monday that it would allow the world’s most-watched sports circuit to resume playing games in empty stadiums beginning June 1.
U.K. prime minister Boris Johnson made the announcement as part of the country’s so-called “road map” to reopening. Those guidelines permit “cultural and sporting events to take place behind closed-doors for broadcast, while avoiding the risk of large-scale social contact” from that date forward.
While several of Europe’s other top leagues, including France’s Ligue 1 and the Dutch Eredivisie, have cancelled the reminder of their 2019-20 campaigns, the Premier League has long held out hope that it would be able to complete its remaining schedule over the summer.
If it’s able to return next month, it would join Germany’s Bundesliga, which plans to restart on Saturday behind closed doors after a break of more than two months. Leagues in Spain and Italy are also hoping to complete their respective slates even as some players continue to test positive for the virus.
Liverpool was leading the Premier League by a whopping 25 points when the shutdown began in May. The UEFA Champions League holders need just six points from their nine remaining matches to win their first English title in 30 years.
The 20 clubs that make up the Prem are expected to vote next week on exactly how and when games will resume. It has not yet been determined whether teams will be able to host matches in their own stadiums as usual or if all games will played at neutral venues.
The U.K. has been hit harder by COVID-19 than any other country on the continent, with more than 30,000 deaths so far.
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