(Reuters) – The UK government’s cabinet minister responsible for sport said he has been in talks with the Premier League with the aim of getting football back on the field as quickly as possible.
Speaking at a parliamentary questions session, Oliver Dowden, Culture, Media and Sport Secretary, said: “I personally have been in talks with the Premier League with a view to getting football up and running as soon as possible in order to support the whole football community.
“But of course, any such moves would have to be consistent with public health guidance,” he said.
The Premier League, which has been on hold since March 13, remains suspended until at least April 30 while lockdown measures are in place in the United Kingdom until May 7, when the government is set to review the current restrictions in place.
But three London clubs, Arsenal, West Ham and Tottenham Hotspur, along with Brighton, have already re-opened their training grounds, allowing limited return to training while observing social distancing protocols.
Those clubs say that players will only be using outdoor field facilities for individual work and will not take part in team activities.
Premier League clubs will hold their latest conference call on Friday as they continue to evaluate various options for finishing the season but a re-start of matches is not expected until June at the earliest.
Last week the league said it was “working through complex planning scenarios” and there are a number of practical hurdles that they face.
With the ban on mass public gatherings likely to be one of the last restrictions to be removed, rescheduled games could be held behind closed doors, possibly at neutral venues.
English cricket’s governing body, the ECB, has been given the leading role for all sport in the country, including soccer, in examining how to create ‘bio-secure’ venues, with the focus on stadiums with hotel facilities connected or nearby — to limit the need for extensive travel.
(Reporting by Simon Evans, editing by Pritha Sarkar)