The government have given the Premier League the go ahead to return to action on June 1.
Football in the UK has been suspended indefinitely since mid-March following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, though the governing bodies and clubs have retained a commitment to concluding the current campaign if and when it is advised safe to do so.
Talks have continued between the representative clubs over a safe return to the sport, with several proposals having been discussed, including the possibility of playing the remaining 92 fixtures at neutral venues across the country in a bid to minimise potential risk.
The league have maintained that any decision to resume the season must fall in line with government protocol, with the latest guidelines offering hope the season can now restart next month.
Games will remain behind closed doors for a considerable period. Government Covid-19 Recovery Strategy page 21: "reopening…venues that attract large crowds (like sports stadia) may only be fully possible significantly later depending on the reduction in numbers of infections".
— Henry Winter (@henrywinter) May 11, 2020
As part of the government’s five-step plan to returning society to normality, professional sport will be allowed to resume behind-closed-doors from the start of June, with organising bodies having been informed to prepare for a potential return, providing that ‘sufficient progress’ is made in combating the spread of the virus.
However, any return still has plenty of potential hurdles to overcome, with the proposals of playing at neutral stadiums having been met with opposition from the league’s struggling sides, the Premier League‘s bottom six wary of a relegation run-in without the possibility of home advantage.
Meanwhile, several players – including Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero and Chelsea’s Antonio Rudiger – have also voiced their concerns over player safety, whilst Brighton announced a third member of their squad is now in isolation after testing positive for Covid-19.
There’s a long way to go until football returns, but it has perhaps taken a first tentative step closer.