The English Premier League plans for a June restart was given a boost after the UK government said it was “opening the door” for professional football to return in June.
Secretary of state for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Oliver Dowden said he held a “positive meeting” with the Premier League, the English Football League and the Football Association to “progress plans” for football to resume.
The Premier League had earlier met on Monday to discuss “Project Restart” which aims for a return to action on 12 June, with matches played behind closed doors.
“We all agreed that we will only go ahead if it is safe to do so and the health and welfare of players, coaches and staff comes first,” Dowden said in a statement.
“The government is opening the door for competitive football to return safely in June. This should include widening access for fans to view live coverage and ensure finances from the game’s resumption supports the wider football family.”
While the government has given the green light, Dowden said it was up to football authorities to finalise the details of how they would proceed, with the government offering guidance.
“There is combined goodwill to achieve this for their fans, the football community and the nation as a whole,” Dowden added.
“The government and our medical experts will continue to offer guidance and support to the game ahead of any final decision which would put these plans into action.”
The Premier League has been suspended since 13 March because of the Covid-19 pandemic and most teams have nine fixtures left to play.
The next meeting of Premier League clubs will take place on Monday, when top-flight players may return to initial group training under social distancing protocols.
Footballers have so far been limited to individual training but Premier League bosses hope a first phase of team training, under strict guidelines and restricted to 75 minutes, can begin next week.