Another major international sports league is heading back out to the pitch after months of shutdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The English Premier League announced its intentions to resume its 2020 season on June 17, while cautioning that the ultimate decision to come back will reside on the league meeting safety requirements.
“Today we have provisionally agreed to resume the Premier League on Wednesday 17 June,” said Premier League Chief Executive Richard Masters. “But 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.”
Two matches — Aston Villa vs Sheffield United and Manchester City vs Arsenal — will take place on June 17, with a full slate two days later on June 19. As with Germany’s Bundesliga soccer league, all matches will be held without fans in the stadiums. All remaining 92 matches will air live on TV in the U.K. and the U.S.
“The Premier League and our clubs are proud to have incredibly passionate and loyal supporters. It is important to ensure as many people as possible can watch the matches at home,” Masters continued. “We will continue to work step-by-step and in consultation with all our stakeholders as we move towards resuming the 2019/20 season.”
The Premier League’s return to the pitch is good news for NBC Sports, which carries the popular soccer league in the U.S. Games are televised on NBC, NBCSN and CNBC, though the exact breakdown for the remainder of 2020 is still to be determined. NBC’s other major sports league partner, the NHL, announced its plans to finish its own season with a 24-team playoff, earlier this week. The hockey league did not give an exact return date but it is not expected to resume earlier than July.
The NBA is eyeing a late-July return at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, though the league has yet to make any formal plans on a return.
In recent weeks, the UFC and NASCAR have returned, albeit without any spectators. Germany’s top soccer league Bundesliga resumed play earlier this month, and last Saturday, Spain’s La Liga received clearance from Spanish prime minister Pedro Sanchez to resume its season in early June.