The Premier League is primed to return after organisers confirmed the schedule for the first three weeks of fixtures following lockdown, set to begin on Wednesday, June 17.
Manchester City will host Arsenal after their matchup was the first Premier League game to be postponed due to COVID-19 in March. Sheffield United will also travel to Aston Villa on that date, after which every team in England’s first tier will have played 29 games apiece.
Premier League matches will be available to stream on fuboTV.
Premier League Return Schedule
Wednesday, June 17
Aston Villa vs. Sheffield United, 1 p.m. ET
Manchester City vs. Arsenal, 3:15 p.m. ET
Friday, June 19
Norwich City v Southampton, 1 p.m. ET
Tottenham Hotspur vs. Manchester United, 3:15 p.m. ET
Saturday, June 20
Watford v Leicester City, 7:30 a.m. ET
Brighton & Hove Albion v Arsenal, 3 p.m. ET
West Ham United v Wolverhampton Wanderers, 12:30 p.m. ET
Bournemouth v Crystal Palace, 2:45 p.m. ET
Sunday, June 21
Newcastle United v Sheffield United, 9 a.m. ET
Aston Villa v Chelsea, 11:15 a.m. ET
Everton v Liverpool, 2 p.m. ET
Monday, June 22
Manchester City vs. Burnley, 3 p.m. ET
Manchester United visit Tottenham Hotspur on Friday, June 19, when the Red Devils hope to pick back up their resilient pre-lockdown form in a clash with former boss Jose Mourinho. Leaders Liverpool make the short trip to Goodison Park for a Merseyside derby on Sunday, June 21, with the Reds requiring only two more wins to clinch their first top-flight title since 1990.
What are the safety and testing protocols?
Matches will take place behind closed doors with safety protocols in place to stop the spread of the coronavirus, which has shown signs of retreat in the United Kingdom, according to government figures.
That being said, teams and the league as a whole remain on guard considering the UK has recorded the worst response of any European country. Its tally of almost 41,000 coronavirus-related deaths is second only to the United States worldwide, per the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University.
It’s been reported any player who tests positive for COVID-19—even if they fail to show symptoms—between now and the end of the campaign must quarantine away from their squad for a minimum of 14 days, per Jeremy Wilson of the Telegraph:
Players can return to “graded activity” (limited training) after a seven-day isolation period provided they test negative, resuming team training after a two-week quarantine.
It’s worth noting players who test positive and show symptoms of the virus must be symptom-free for at least 14 days before they can train with the team again. Players and staff are currently subject to two tests per week, with no new cases returned in the latest batch of results.
The FA Cup is also due to get back underway in June, with the quarter-final slate to be played over the weekend beginning June 27, via Goal:
The Premier League’s resumption aligns with that of La Liga and Serie A, which will restart on June 11 and June 20, respectively. All three leagues have been suspended since mid-March due to the pandemic, with Italy and Spain also among the four European countries affected worst by COVID-19 (France being the other).
What are the in-stadium protocols?
West Ham United vice-chairman Karren Brady has said stadia will be divided into red, amber and green zones, via the Press Association’s Jonathan Veal (h/t Belfast Telegraph).
The red zone will be limited to 105 people capacity and includes “the pitch, the tunnel, technical areas, changing rooms,” with only those who have tested negative for the virus in the past five days permitted.
The amber zone includes the interior of the stadium including media facilities, while the green zone is the stadium exterior (e.g. car parks).
The Bundesliga’s return in May has proved behind-closed-doors fixtures can still attract great attention at a time when major sport has been missed, with the Premier League now hoping to make its own success out of ‘Project Restart’.