LONDON, May 12: Premier League clubs received a boost to their hopes of completing the season as the government published a �roadmap� that could see the return of elite sport in England from June 1.
As the 20 English top-flight clubs met for further talks on �Project Restart�, ministers announced plans to ease the coronavirus lockdown.
Under step two of that process, which cannot begin any earlier than June 1, sporting events would be allowed �to take place behind closed doors for broadcast, while avoiding the risk of large-scale social contact�.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he believed the return of sport on TV would �provide a much-needed boost to national morale.�
Supporters face a long wait to be allowed to attend matches, though, with the latest guidelines recognising a return to sport in front of a crowd �may only be fully possible significantly later depending on the reduction in numbers of infections�.
Premier League clubs had been planning for a return to action no earlier than the week beginning June 8.
Before the resumption of matches can be considered, protocols need to be agreed on how to return to group training safely and on how the Premier League would deal with positive tests.
Brighton confirmed on Sunday that a third member of their squad had tested positive.
Cases have also been found in squads in Germany, where the Bundesliga is due to restart this weekend, as well as Italy, Spain and Portugal in recent days.
�We have protocols created and reviewed, we have a testing company appointed, but the important consultation with players and managers is the next step,� said Premier League CEO Richard Masters.
�No decisions will be made until after we have talked to players and managers and those meetings are scheduled for later this week.�
Players have voiced their concerns at the prospect of being rushed back into training and, eventually, into playing a contact sport at a time when the rest of the public remain encouraged to abide by social-distancing guidelines. � AFP