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Coronavirus: Premier League clubs near contact-training approval, mid-June return

8 days ago
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After resuming training in small groups, the Premier League could be on track to restart next month.

Premier League clubs could receive approval to resume contact training as early as this week before restarting the season in mid-June.

Teams returned to training in small groups from Tuesday as the Premier League, which has been suspended since March, looks to get back underway amid the coronavirus pandemic.

But there could be further progress this week as the United Kingdom culture secretary Oliver Dowden said contact training was close to being approved.

"I hope, subject to the sign-off by Public Health England and others, we will then later this week, very shortly, get the guidance about how we can have training in a contact environment. This is for elite sports so that they can start to build up," he said on Wednesday.

"The final stage would then be the guidelines as to whether they can resume behind closed doors. In doing that we have been guided by the health advice, and I can update you again today for the fourth time there were meetings between elite sports and Public Health England to find out how we can do it safely.

"If we can do it safely, I'd like us to be able to get it up and running towards mid-June if that's possible."

With matches set to be played behind closed doors due to COVID-19, there may also be broadcasting changes in the UK, where Sky Sports, BT Sport and Amazon Prime Video hold the rights.

Dowden said there could be an opportunity to shift some Premier League games to free-to-air TV.

"That creates an opportunity for us to be able to get some sport, some Premier League free-to-air," he said.

"Those discussions are ongoing, I'm having productive discussions a couple of weeks ago, now I had the latest one with Premier League, the EFL and with the FA.

"I hope we can sort this out and I also hope then we can get some more money going into the sport of football. I think we could find ourselves in a win-win situation."

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