UEFA set May 25 deadline for Premier League to submit restart decision

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The Premier League is to provide a detailed plan on how they are to restart the season by May 25, after UEFA set the deadline.

England’s top flight has been suspended since March 13 in the wake of the coronavirus, with the ‘earliest’ possible return date widely accepted as June 8.

It is, of course, subject to change based on government advice, but UEFA has now told its associations that it requires information pertaining to the if the competition will restart, when they plan to do so and what format they are to use.

Various means to complete the final 92 fixtures have been mooted, including the use of hotels and “approved” neutral venues.

The latter, according to The Times, has received “significant opposition” from a number of clubs as playing at a limited number of natural grounds “would damage the integrity of the competition.”

NORWICH, ENGLAND - Saturday, February 15, 2020: Liverpool's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain during the FA Premier League match between Norwich City FC and Liverpool FC at Carrow Road. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Premier League and all 20 clubs are set to meet for their regular fortnightly meeting on Friday and the deadline set by UEFA will now push the stakeholders to identify a clearer route forward.

News of the deadlines has arisen from “a document” from UEFA, seen by the Times, which states: “National associations and/or leagues should be in a position to communicate to Uefa by May 25 the planned restart of their domestic competitions, including the date of restart and the relevant competition format.”

It goes on to add that leagues can make the executive decision to conclude their season now if they can outline “specific economic and financial justifications, which would make continuing the season to its conclusion financially imprudent or which could put at risk the long-term financial stability of the domestic competition and/or clubs.”

The Bundesliga is set to resume on May 9 and would be the first topflight competition to return following the coronavirus and is set to use all 18 stadiums.

But while Germany has succeeded with vast testing to ensure that resources would not be taken away from the general public, the UK remains behind the eight ball and as such are not in the position for a similar start date.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin is having to deal with the coronavirus fallout (Niall Carson/PA)

Culture secretary Oliver Dowden, spoke of ongoing discussions to get “football up and running as soon as possible,” but it relies on NHS capacity and availability of testing, among other things as “any such moves would have to be consistent with public health guidance.”

And while it was previously mentioned that a number of clubs are opposed to the use of neutral venues, it is widely regarded as “the most realistic option” to limit the spread of the virus and relieve any pressure on public services.

The current lockdown runs to May 7 and should that not be extended, May 18, has been widely reported as a date clubs could return to training.

Arsenal, Brighton, Tottenham, West Ham and Chelsea are to allow players to use their training grounds under strict social distancing guidelines this week, while Liverpool is awaiting government clearance to open Melwood.

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