Tottenham’s home game against Manchester United and Man City’s clash against Arsenal will be amkong the first games back as the Premier League prepares to make its return.
The fixture list for the first three rounds of games is set to be confirmed by the League in an official statement on Friday morning, with the rest of the games to be announced at a later date.
However, a number of leading newspapers, including The Times, the Daily Telegraph and the Sun, have all published details of the first three round of games.
The Premier League returns on Wednesday 17 June – less than two weeks away – with Aston Villa v Sheffield United first up at 6pm, followed by Man City v Arsenal at 8.15pm.
Friday night will then see another double header with Norwich v Southampton (6pm) followed by Spurs v United at 8pm. All four of the first games will be broadcast on Sky.
In total, 36 games will be broadcast in the space of just 16 days.
Liverpool’s Merseyside derby at Everton, which could see them clinch their first title since 1990, will be played at 7pm on Sunday June 21, free to air via Sky platforms.
Free-to-air Premier League games will also be available on the BBC, with Bournemouth meeting Crystal Palace at 7.45pm on June 20.
All 92 matches will be televised because all of them are being played behind closed doors, and 33 will be available free to air.
Premier League clubs have agreed in principle to the use of neutral venues where necessary in order to complete the 2019-20 season, but have delayed a decision on how to end the campaign if it is cut short.
The use of neutral venues has been a hugely controversial topic in the English top flight since the season was suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Clubs were told at the start of May the only way to complete the season would be to play all the remaining 92 matches at eight to 10 approved neutral venues. A number of sides, including Brighton and Watford, said doing so would put the integrity of the competition in question.
Premier League chief executive Richard Masters held fresh talks with the Government and the police as the position appeared to shift, but last week the UK’s football policing lead, Deputy Chief Constable Mark Roberts of South Yorkshire Police, said five matches were set to be played at neutral venues at the request of local forces.
In addition to that, Roberts said any match where runaway league leaders Liverpool could win the title would have to be played at a neutral venue.
The PA news agency understands clubs have now accepted the use of neutral venues in principle, where it is considered necessary by the emergency services and safety advisory groups, or where games have to be switched due to a localised lockdown.
Merseyside Police appeared to contradict DCC Roberts when they said they were happy to police matches in Liverpool, including the Merseyside derby at Goodison Park due to be played over the weekend of June 19-22 which was one of the five matches listed.
Liverpool City Council’s safety advisory group will convene next week to make a decision regarding that fixture. The Metropolitan Police have said they are awaiting the proposed fixture schedule before making decisions on any games under their jurisdiction.
While there was a breakthrough on neutral venues, no agreement was reached on a framework for cutting the season short when the clubs gathered for a shareholders’ meeting on Thursday.
It is understood clubs felt that the momentum is with ‘Project Restart’, with only a tiny percentage of individuals connected to the 20 clubs testing positive for coronavirus since clubs resumed training last month.
Clubs have decided to revisit the issue only if they are in a situation where abandoning the season appears necessary.
English Football League to vote on curtailment plan
The English Football League’s 71 clubs are voting on a curtailment framework next week, and the Government guidelines for a return to domestic competition state the need to have an agreed procedure in place to “modify, restrict, postpone or cancel the competition” before progressing to a return to action.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is understood to be comfortable with the decision to wait before putting a curtailment plan in place.
Premier League clubs will be allowed to use up to five substitutes, instead of the usual three, in the remaining games of the 2019-20 season.
The league has adopted the temporary dispensation to the laws, which was approved by the International Football Association Board last month to help manage the workload of players as they return to action after the suspension of competition.
Matchday squads will increase to 20 from 18 as a result, and the substitutions can only be made at a maximum of three points in the match to avoid unnecessary delays.