LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, January 19, 2020: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah (R) and Manchester United's Luke Shaw during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Manchester United FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

UK government confirm plan to allow return of the Premier League

The UK government have now confirmed that professional sport could be played behind closed doors from June 1, paving the way for the return of the Premier League.

As announced on Sunday evening, the government are beginning the second phase of their lockdown measures in the coronavirus pandemic, including “actively encouraging” many to return to work.

This could see Premier League squads report back for training in the near future, with it widely expected that the fixture list will resume next month.

Those proposals have been reinforced on Monday afternoon with the release of the government’s 50-page document mapping out the ‘pathway’ out of lockdown.

Included in this was the plan to allow “cultural and sporting events to take place behind closed doors for broadcast, while avoiding the risk of large-scale social contact.”

These could come into effect on June 1 at the earliest, contingent on five safety tests being passed, based on allowing the NHS to cope by avoiding a second peak while infection rates decrease.

The Premier League have been hopeful of a return around mid-June, with a host of dates mooted including June 8 and June 12, and according to the government document these would be announced “at least 48 hours before coming into effect.”

However, it adds that “it is possible that the dates set out will be delayed,” which remains a caveat as the UK continues its attempt to manage the pandemic.

Premier League clubs are yet to be permitted to return to full training, with most including Liverpool now allowing individual work at training grounds, but this could be confirmed later this week.

It is widely accepted now that games will continue to be played behind closed doors for the long term, and the document confirms that the permission of mass gatherings “may only be fully possible significantly later depending on the reduction in numbers of infections.”

Step three of the government’s plan could see some hospitality and leisure businesses reopen from July 4, though 2021 may be a more realistic timeframe for the return of fans to football games.