Government 'opening the door' for football's return in June

The government has given professional football the provisional green light to plan for a June resumption of competitive fixtures.

A meeting of stakeholders on Thursday opened the door for clubs to return to action next month.

The Premier League has been putting its efforts into 'Project Restart', a plan to make it safe for football to begin.

Due to the fact games will be played behind closed doors, the government wants to ensure television coverage is broadened to allow fans to watch the action.

Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Oliver Dowden said: "Today's positive meeting I hosted with the football authorities progressed plans for the resumption of the professional game in England.

"We all agreed that we will only go ahead if it is safe to do so and the health and welfare of players, coaches and staff comes first.

"The government is opening the door for competitive football to return safely in June.

"This should include widening access for fans to view live coverage and ensure finances from the game's resumption supports the wider football family.

"It is now up to the football authorities to agree and finalise the detail of their plans, and there is combined goodwill to achieve this for their fans, the football community and the nation as a whole.

The government and our medical experts will continue to offer guidance and support to the game ahead of any final decision which would put these plans into action."

Plans have been put in place to make training as safe as possible for footballers, who have been away from their clubs for a number of weeks.

The German Bundesliga will restart this weekend, with England confident they can follow in June.

Oliver Dowden hosted the meeting on Thursday. Credit: PA

However, speaking at the government's daily coronavirus update, England's Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said experts would see how socially-distanced training goes before competitive football matches are allowed to return.

“The overall approach with easing social distancing has been one that has been tentative, measured, slow and stepwise, and that is exactly the plan that is under way for all of elite sport – not just football," Prof Van-Tam said.

“There will be small, carefully measured, stepwise approaches to seeing what can be achieved safely.

“The first of those is, really, is to return to safe training, still observing social distancing and measures are taking place, plans are taking place in quite some depth to be ready to do that, and that will be a stepwise thing.

“We will have to see how that goes before it is time to move on or even think about moving on to the return of competitive football matches.”

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