Plans for the Premier League to return in June have been tentatively agreed with the UK government.
The coronavirus outbreak has seen football postponed indefinitely, with the initial return date of late April always seen as unrealistic given the severity of the current situation.
As noted by the Mirror, all 20 Premier League clubs held a meeting with league representatives on Friday to thrash out a plan which would see football return in June, and the government have provisionally accepted the idea.
Health officials are hopeful that the coronavirus spread will peak in the next few weeks before returning to manageable levels, and they are ready to sanction football's return if teams agree to play matches under strict guidelines.
Unsurprisingly, all matches would have to be played behind closed doors, while high-level league officials have also discussed the possibility of keeping all players in sterile environments away from the public until the season is finished.
Here’s a plan to get the Premier League done... strict quarantine lockdown for the players in hotels for a month, cram the games in behind closed doors and save the TV cash. No fans allowed in until October (next season) https://t.co/yrvSHdT6gX— John Cross (@johncrossmirror) March 30, 2020
The plan also includes potential solutions to the problem of broadcasting. League officials are thought to be wary of being hit with huge financial losses if they fail to fulfil all the remaining fixtures, but there have been talks with TV companies over increasing the number of games shown in June.
Alongside Sky and BT, meetings have been held which would see some games shown on free-to-air channels to ensure enough matches are shown.
The entire plan is said to be 'extensive' and is simply awaiting a more conclusive go-ahead from the government, who are obviously monitoring the development of the coronavirus crisis.
From helping local food banks to calling isolated fans, Premier League clubs and their foundations have been working hard to support their local communities.— Premier League (@premierleague) April 2, 2020
Here’s a look at a few of the many things they have been doing: https://t.co/DpP0WLJENa
There is an acceptance that, should things get worse, this plan would have to be scrapped and football's return date would be pushed back even further, but government sources are said to be optimistic about seeing a real improvement in the coming weeks.
Clubs have been informed of the plans and have tentatively agreed to return to training in May, although the details of how they would do so away from the wider public are yet to be finalised.