Premier League clubs still in European competitions set for extended break before new season

New Premier League season to start on September 12

Lucas Vazquez of Real Madrid (l) and Raheem Sterling of Manchester City during the Champions League round of 16 first leg match in Spain
Image: Manchester City take a 2-1 lead into the second leg of their Champions League, round of 16 tie with Real Madrid

Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Wolves are expected to be given extra time off by the Premier League and start next season late, should they go into the latter stages of their respective European competitions.

The Premier League is likely to ring-fence a guaranteed 30 days off for players to recover, from the day after their final European game of this season.

The matter will be discussed, and could be ratified, at the next Premier League AGM, which is scheduled for August 6.

If the proposals go through as planned, should Manchester City or Chelsea make the Champions League final on Sunday August 23, their first Premier League game would not be until Tuesday September 22 - 10 days after the official start of the new season.

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For Manchester United and Wolves, if they qualify for the Europa League final on Friday August 21, their first Premier League game of the new season could not take place before Sunday September 20.

The new Premier League season will start on Saturday September 12, but English teams involved in the latter stages of European competition would see their opening fixtures postponed and played in midweek to catch up.

Champions League key dates

August 7/8 Four remaining last-16 second legs
August 12-15 Quarter-finals
August 18/19 Semi-finals
August 23 Champions League final

Europa League key dates

August 5/6 Round of 16 remaining ties
August 10/11 Quarter-finals
August 16/17 Semi-finals
August 21 Europa League final

A further complicating factor is the round of international matches, scheduled to take place before the new Premier League season starts.

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England manager Gareth Southgate is likely to begin his training camp on August 31 - five days before the first Nations League match against Iceland.

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That could mean Manchester City's England players, including Raheem Sterling, John Stones, Phil Foden and Kyle Walker, only getting a week's rest after the Champions League final, before they were called up by their country.

Southgate has always taken a pragmatic approach to these issues, and in such circumstances would be likely to have a staged call up for players who have had different workloads.

Additionally, Chelsea's potential involvement in the Community Shield - date still to be decided - could be an issue in the unlikely event they can overturn their 3-0 first-leg defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League round of 16.

It is all part of a testing schedule for the clubs, and a logistical nightmare for the Premier League itself, in the aftermath of the coronavirus lockdown.

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While a number of top managers voiced their concerns about the hectic schedule since football's restart, there's also been high praise for the Premier League - and its strict protocols at training grounds and stadiums - and its rigorous testing procedures, allowed for the remaining fixtures of this season to be completed.

For next season, league officials are likely to have just two weeks from the Championship play-off final, to prepare for the announcement of the fixtures for the new season.

The summer transfer window will run for 10 weeks from July 27 and close at 11pm on October 5. A domestic-only window for trades between the Premier League and EFL then runs from October 5 and closes on Friday October 16 at 5pm. Follow all the news and analysis on Sky Sports News and across Sky Sports' digital platforms.

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