May 29, 2020, 8:43 a.m. EDT

English Premier League restart date revealed: Manchester City vs. Arsenal kicks things off

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By Callum Keown


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Premier League players have returned to training and are being regularly tested for COVID-19.

Premier League clubs have agreed to restart the season on June 17 after three months out of action.

Two fixtures remaining from the last round of matches — Manchester City vs. Arsenal and Aston Villa vs. Sheffield United — will take place on the 17th before the first full round of matches the following weekend.

Fans of the Premier League will certainly be in for a treat when it finally returns with a bumper television schedule. Viewers are set for four back-to-back matches on Saturdays and then again on Sundays, with games also scheduled for Friday and Monday nights as well as in midweek slots.

All 92 remaining fixtures will be broadcast live in the U.K. by the league’s broadcast partners Sky Sports, BT Sport /zigman2/quotes/209006687/delayed UK:BT.A +1.98% , BBC Sport and Amazon Prime /zigman2/quotes/210331248/composite AMZN +2.49% as well as by broadcasters around the world.

The BBC has been given four live games. It will be the first time the broadcaster has shown a live top-flight English league game since the 1980s.

As part of “Project Restart,” players and staff are being tested for the coronavirus twice a week, with those testing positive forced to self-isolate for seven days.

Earlier this week the Premier League said it had carried out tests on 1,008 players and staff, reporting that four were positive across three different clubs. Since testing began on May 17, 2,752 tests have been carried out and 12 people — 0.2% — have tested positive. In the next round of testing, the number of tests available to each club will increase from 50 to 60. The U.K. government launched on Thursday its own nationwide test-and-trace system, which will also require people to self-isolate even if they don’t have any symptoms of the coronavirus-borne COVID-19, as the country looks to emerge from lockdown.

The government has also approved the restart of sporting events behind closed doors from June 1.

The 20 Premier League soccer clubs unanimously voted to restart contact training on Wednesday — moving to Stage 2 of “Project Restart.”

Read: Everything you need to know about the English Premier League’s planned return

“Squads are now able to train as a group and engage in tackling while minimizing any unnecessary close contact,” the league said in a statement.

The clubs each receive millions annually in television revenue as part of the Premier League’s deals with broadcasters. That revenue would be under threat if the season didn’t resume. Clubs could be forced to pay a potential £330 million rebate to broadcasters even if the season is completed, according to reports.

German football returned on May 16 — the first major European league to do so — with matches being played in empty stadiums. Substitutes and nonplaying staff have been asked to wear face masks, while on-pitch celebrations have been limited to players touching elbows and, in some cases, dancing at a safe distance. Fake crowd noise was added to some of the matches broadcast in the U.S. at the weekend, attracting a mixed response.

From the archives (March 20, 2020): English Premier League seasons ‘extended indefinitely’ as players train in self-isolation

Despite plans to get back on the pitch, a number of high-profile players, including Chelsea’s N’Golo Kanté and Watford captain Troy Deeney, have refused to return to training. Manchester City’s Sergio Agüero has expressed concerns over resuming league play.

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Callum Keown is a Barron's Group reporter for the Europe, Middle East and Africa region. He writes for MarketWatch, Barron’s, Penta and Financial News.

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