News, Culture & Society

Project Restart’s race against time: How PL chiefs are struggling to work out jam-packed schedule

Premier League officials are in a race against time with their plans to get Project Restart underway continuously left in limbo.

After the coronavirus outbreak brought football to an abrupt halt in March, the question on everyone’s lips is when can Premier League football make its long-awaited return.

Suggestions to get the show back on the road on June 12 have been met with backlash while questions about players’ health and wellbeing are being raised on a regular occurrence.

Project Restart is facing a race against time with no dates for football’s return agreed

With no-one having the answers, Premier League officials are desperately trying to map out a return and follow the Bundesliga’s blueprint, which action in Germany to resume this weekend.

But with the Champions League and FA Cup to also consider, what are the dates that are being considered in what will be an action-packed summer should everything go to plan?

Here, Sportsmail runs you through what the landscape of Premier League football looks like in the coming months.

MAY 

May 18

Following a video conference on Wednesday, several of the league’s players and managers gave tentative backing to resume training the week starting May 18. Liverpool, Tottenham, Arsenal and West Ham have already returned to training while many are still mulling over a return. 

On Monday, a number of Premier League clubs will meet again to approve a return to training, which will lay out safety protocols on how club’s can train in the weeks ahead.

West Ham star Declan Rice takes part in training as players adhere to social distancing rules

West Ham star Declan Rice takes part in training as players adhere to social distancing rules

May 19

Wednesday’s video conference meeting also saw a number of managers point out that the earliest they can begin coaching their players would be on May 19. Their players would still be subject to social distancing rules while being allowed to work in small groups. This is as long as contact in training is permitted the following week.

May 25

The week beginning May 25, players will be allowed to work in small groups of five or six, should the training phases be agreed upon by managers and players. It is also the date set by UEFA for European leagues to agree an outcome for their respective campaigns. However, reports have suggested that the Premier League may request an extension to this deadline with several of England’s top-flight clubs struggling to reach an agreement on how to proceed.

Premier League may have to apply to UEFA, and president Aleksander Ceferin, for an extension

Premier League may have to apply to UEFA, and president Aleksander Ceferin, for an extension

JUNE 

June 1 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson revealed on Sunday that professional sport cannot resume until June 1 in the UK, which would be the earliest date that clubs can resume full training for a number of Premier League clubs.

June 12

June 12 is the date officials have earmarked as the return of the Premier League. Tottenham’s home clash with Manchester United is expected the be the season’s curtain-raiser while Sportsmail exclusively revealed on Wednesday night that TV companies have been told to prepare for the season to resume with one live game on a Friday, followed by four live matches at separate kick-off times on Saturday and Sunday, before the return of Monday Night Football the following day.

Spurs' home game with Manchester United could be the Premier League's first game back

Spurs’ home game with Manchester United could be the Premier League’s first game back

June 19

There is a concern that the proposed date of June 12 will not give managers enough time to get the squads fully match-fit in time, considering they will have had just nine of 10 days of full-contact training, while rest days will also need to be factored in. This has led for calls to delay the Premier League’s restart by a week, allowing more time for clubs to prepare.

In Wednesday’s video conference, the issue of players breaking down was raised and as a result June 19 was suggested as a more realistic return date, a view which the Premier League agreed to consider. Sportsmail has also learned that Sky Sports and BT Sport have been told to work towards a resumption on June 12 or 19, which could be significant.

JULY 

July 27

With 92 games left to be played in total, the plan to stage three or four matches on most days at staggered kick-off times would see the Premier League finish on July 27, if the season restarts on June 12. This will allow clubs a six-week period to finish off their remaining nine or so games.

Clubs will likely have to play twice a week in order to complete the current campaign in this period which will see matches played in midweek and at the weekend. Fixtures for the rest of the campaign will also be shown at 3pm on a Saturday after UEFA dropped the traditional blackout.

The Premier League, won last year by Manchester City, has an end date pencilled in of July 27

The Premier League, won last year by Manchester City, has an end date pencilled in of July 27 

AUGUST 

August 2

Should the Premier League restart be pushed back by a week to June 19, then August 2 would likely become the alternative final day of the season, providing clubs with that six-week period to have all games finished. This would also be the final date for domestic leagues to be completed by as per UEFA’s wishes.

August 7

The Champions League and Europa League is set to resume, with four stages still to be completed. Four last-16 ties in the Champions League are yet to be fulfilled as well as all the last-16 contests in the Europa League. In order to squeeze the completion of these competitions, UEFA could restrict the quarter-finals and semi-finals to just one-leg as they aim to finish both events in three weeks. August 7 is also the proposed date set for the FA Cup final, providing fans with an action-packed Friday.

August 22

Should the Premier League restart date be pushed back to June 19, the new 2020-21 campaign would start less than three weeks after current season finishes, giving squads a mini-pre-season. There will be no respite for the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea, should they reach the final stages in Europe. 

August 29

The new reported date for the 2020 Champions League final at the Ataturk Stadium in Istanbul. Due to originally take place on May 30, this would represent a near three-month delay to UEFA’s showpiece event.

UEFA's showpiece match is due to take place at the Atakturk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul

UEFA’s showpiece match is due to take place at the Atakturk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk