Premier League targets behind-closed-doors-return in June
DCMS Secretary Oliver Dowden: "I personally have been in talks with the Premier League, with a view to getting football up and running as soon as possible"
By Bryan Swanson, Sky Sports News chief reporter
Last Updated: 03/05/20 7:51am
The Premier League will hold further talks this week, as it targets a return behind closed doors in June - and it has the backing of the government.
All 20 clubs will hold their latest conference call on Friday, armed with the knowledge that the country's political leaders are also keen for the season to resume when possible.
The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Secretary Oliver Dowden said in the House of Commons: "I personally have been in talks with the Premier League, with a view to getting football up and running as soon as possible in order to support the whole football community.
"But, of course, any such moves would have to be consistent with public health guidance."
The government's next review of current lockdown restrictions is due on May 7, as detailed planning continues under a 'Project Restart' programme.
- Project Restart: What's happening around Europe?
- Italian clubs can resume training from May 18
- Spain health minister: Reckless to predict football before summer
Prime minister Boris Johnson said on Monday: "I ask you to contain your impatience."
Johnson says the UK is "making progress" and "beginning to turn the tide" against the coronavirus pandemic but urged people to maintain social distancing restrictions.
Sport will only resume when the government is satisfied its own measures are in place.
The Premier League, along with other sports, will have to meet specific criteria before a return including testing arrangements for participants, paid for by sporting authorities or clubs, and ensuring measures are in place to avoid fans gathering outside matches.
It has yet to be decided whether games will resume at approved stadiums, or at a neutral venue such as St George's Park.
The Premier League remains committed to completing the remaining 92 games of the season, in line with UEFA's recommendation.
Gary Neville has warned footballers to "get their heads around" the idea of playing behind closed doors.
"It's going to be strange," Neville said on The Football Show. "It's an awful experience when you are used to playing in front of big crowds. The Premier League lives off its stadium experience, the adrenaline gets pumping for the players and the fans get behind it.
"But we are going to be playing behind closed doors for months and months - probably into next year. We have to get our heads around that."
Sky Sports' Gerard Brand...
'The answer, as you'd expect, varies.
'Some reports suggest a Premier League game needs anything between 250 and 500 personnel present, whereas lower down in the Football League there has been suggestions that anything between 100 and 180 are needed in a stadium.
'As well as around 60-70 staff on the playing and officiating side, matchday and safety staff take up a large chunk, as well as at least 70 broadcast media for live televised games, 40 for non-live games, plus written press if deemed essential.
'In Germany, detailed guidelines have been published claiming a maximum of 322 people are needed in and around stadiums for a football match to go ahead.'
With football suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, what is the current situation around Europe's top leagues?
England - Premier League
The Premier League will hold further talks this week, as it targets a return behind closed doors in June.
Scotland - Premiership
The SPFL board is due to meet on Monday afternoon for the first time since April 10, when all 42 SPFL clubs voted on proposals to conclude the season below the top division.
Italy - Serie A
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has announced professional sports teams can resume training on May 18 with Serie A potentially resuming in June.
Germany - Bundesliga
The Bundesliga is ready to return on May 9 if the German government gives it the green light, league officials have confirmed.
Netherlands - Eredivisie
The Dutch Eredivisie season has been ended with immediate effect, meaning league leaders Ajax have been denied the title. There will also be no promotion to the Dutch Eredivisie or relegation from the top flight, following an agreement reached over a video conference call between the Dutch FA (KNVB) and clubs.