Football just 19 days away
The football season is set to resume in just 19 days time with Villa getting the ball rolling on the Premier League’s big return.
Dean Smith’s men will host Sheffield United when the top flight restarts on June 17, after a break of more than three months during the coronavirus pandemic.
A full round of fixtures, with Wolves travelling to West Ham, will then take place over the weekend of June 19-21.
Albion’s campaign is on course to resume a week later with the Championship targeting a return on or around June 26.
The provisional schedule for the Premier League’s resumption was agreed in principle during a conference call involving all 20 top-flight clubs yesterday and would see the remaining 92 matches completed over the course of six weeks, with the campaign finishing on August 1.
Every match will be played behind closed doors but screened live by either Sky Sports, BT Sport, Amazon Prime or the BBC. Four matches will be shown by the latter, the first time English top-flight football has been shown live on terrestrial TV since the Premier League’s creation in 1992. Sky will also make 25 of its 64 games available for free.
Matches will be staggered across the course of seven weekends with two full midweek programmes. Friday and Monday night games will kick-off at 8pm, with fixtures starting on Saturday’s at 12.30pm, 3pm, 5.30pm and 8pm and on Sunday’s at noon, 2pm, 4.30pm and 7pm. Midweek games will kick-off at 6pm and 8pm.
It is understood clubs will mostly be permitted to use their own stadiums, though some high-profile fixtures could still take place at neutral venues.
Premier League chief executive Richard Masters said: “We have provisionally agreed to resume the Premier League on Wednesday 17 June.
“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.”
Villa’s home fixture with the Blades and Arsenal’s trip to Manchester City will be the first matches played. Both were postponed due to Villa and City’s involvement in the Carabao Cup final and once played will mean every club has completed 29 matches.
The league will be resuming exactly 100 days on from the final match played prior to suspension, which saw Villa beaten 4-0 at Leicester City. Wolves’ trip to face the Hammers will be their first match since the Europa League tie at Olympiacos which took place on March 12, just hours before the campaign was halted.
The road to a resumption has been rocky but big strides have been made in the last fortnight, first when clubs agreed protocols for a return to small group training and then on Wednesday, when they voted unanimously to restart contact training. Wolves are thought to have held their first contact session yesterday.