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Premier League set for June resumption, Serie A "99 per cent chance"

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The English Premier League’s plan to resume the season in June was given a major boost after the British Government said it was “opening the door” for soccer to return in June when “safe to do so”.

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Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Oliver Dowden, said a “positive meeting” with football authorities – which included the Premier League, the English Football League and the Football Association – to “progress plans” for football to resume.

“We all agreed that we will only go ahead if it is safe to do so and the health and welfare of players, coaches and staff comes first,” Dowden said in a statement.

“The Government is opening the door for competitive football to return safely in June. This should include widening access for fans to view live coverage and ensure finances from the game’s resumption supports the wider football family.”

The head of Italy’s Olympic committee believes there is a “99 per cent” chance that the government will allow the country’s Serie A soccer league to resume on June 13.

However, CONI president Giovanni Malago said he could not predict whether clubs would be able to complete the season while the players’ union (AIC) said the government’s policy on dealing with a positive coronavirus test risked another stoppage.

While the British Government has given the go-ahead to the EPL, Dowden said it was up to football authorities to finalise the details of how they would proceed, with the government offering guidance.

“There is combined goodwill to achieve this for their fans, the football community and the nation as a whole,” Dowden added.

But Brighton coach Graham Potter – whose squad includes Socceroos stars Aaron Mooy and goalkeeper Mat Ryan – has some reservations about a possible return to training next week.

“There are concerns, of course, because we’ve come out of lockdown, the situation isn’t totally resolved,” Potter said..

“We’re human beings like everybody else, we need that clarity if we can.”

Meanwhile, Premier League players whose contracts expire on June 30 will be allowed to sign short-term extensions until the season ends, chief executive Richard Masters said on Thursday.

The EPL said clubs and players will have until June 23 to mutually agree contract extensions.

“What we decided today is to ensure as far as possible that clubs complete the season with the same squad they had available prior to the suspension of the campaign,” Masters said in a statement.

“Players can extend their contracts beyond June 30 until the end of the season, but it must be agreed by both parties.”

Serie A clubs voted on Wednesday to set June 13 as the resumption date for the league, which has been suspended since March 9 due to the pandemic, although the final decision rests with the government.

“I’d say there is a 99 per cent chance that Serie A can resume on June 13,” Malago told state broadcaster Rai on Thursday.

But he added: “To talk about the chances of it finishing, you would need a crystal ball. It’s a real risk, but Serie A’s primary and only objective is to re-start.”

Serie A still has 12 rounds of matches to play plus several outstanding games postponed from earlier rounds.

Juventus lead the standings by one point from Lazio while Lecce, SPAL and Brescia occupy the relegation places.

Malago said the government might also change its stance on the issue of how to deal with a player testing positive — a major sticking point so far.

The Health Ministry insists that the player’s entire squad would have to go into a 14-day quarantine, which would mean matches being postponed and could play havoc with the fixture list if players at a number of teams tested positive.

The AIC said the government policy “does not seem to be suitable to guarantee the conclusion of the championship”.

“There is a real risk of having to stop again almost as soon as we have returned to the pitch, thereby frustrating all the efforts made,” it said.

-AAP

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