The Premier League announced Thursday that it will resume its season in less than three weeks, with two matches on June 17 signaling a return to action for England’s top soccer competition.
EPL clubs agreed to the “Project Restart” date during a shareholders’ meeting on Thursday.
Premier League Plans for Daily Match Schedule
The opening day matches will feature Manchester City vs. Arsenal and Aston Villa vs. Sheffield United. Those two matches will bring all clubs to 29 games played on the season. The next full matchday will occur on June 19. The starting date is contingent on the EPL meeting various health and safety guidelines.
“Today we have provisionally agreed to resume the Premier League on Wednesday, 17 June,” Premier League Chief Executive Richard Masters said after the meeting. “This date cannot be confirmed until we have met all the safety requirements needed, as the health and welfare of all participants and supporters is our priority.”
While the EPL hasn’t released a full match schedule, it has put together a list of potential kickoff time slots, all on British Summer Time (BST). There are four slots reserved for games each Saturday and Sunday, along with 8 pm slots on Monday and Friday. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights have 6 pm and 8 pm slots.
It’s unclear where the Premier League will be able to play games. Some, or all, matches may take place in neutral venues. Regardless of where clubs play, they’ll be competing in front of empty stands.
“Sadly, matches will have to take place without fans in stadiums, so we are pleased to have come up with a positive solution for supporters to be able to watch all the remaining 92 matches,” Masters said. “It is important to ensure as many people as possible can watch the matches at home.”
City, Sheffield Favorites on Opening Day
Bookmakers have already released odds for the first two announced matches. FanDuel Sportsbook lists Manchester City as a -280 home favorite over Arsenal (+650), while Aston Villa (+200) will have its hands full with visiting Sheffield (+135).
Viewers in the UK will enjoy easier access to at least some matches on television. The BBC announced Thursday that it will air Premier League games live on its free-of-charge network for the first time ever.
“This opportunity creates an historic moment for the BBC and our audiences,” BBC Sport director Barbara Slater said, via Reuters. “At a time when sports fans across the country are in need of lift, this is very welcome news.”
The season restart plan follows a decision by Premier League clubs on Wednesday to return to contact training, a necessary step before playing real matches. The EPL continues to test players and staff members for COVID-19. The latest round of testing returned four positive tests from 1,008 individuals.