Two of Europe’s five major soccer leagues are on the cusp of returns from coronavirus suspensions after England’s Premier League announced a June 17 resumption and Italy’s Serie A was cleared for a June 20 return.
The decisions follow the May 16 return of Germany’s Bundesliga. France’s Ligue 1 has been canceled due to the pandemic. Spain’s La Liga, which includes Lionel Messi and FC Barcelona, has not announced an official return date. La Liga officials have said they hope the league can return June 11.
Premier League shareholders agreed Thursday to the provisional restart date for the 2019-2020 season. All matches will take place behind closed doors, with no fans allowed in England’s popular soccer stadiums. Premier League matches were suspended in mid-March.
The Premier League announced two matches for June 17. Aston Villa will face Sheffield United and Manchester City will battle Arsenal in the first matches of the restart. A full slate of games will follow on June 19.
All 92 remaining matches will broadcast live in the United Kingdom by Sky Sports, BT Sport, BBC Sport and Amazon Prime.
“Today we have provisionally agreed to resume the Premier League … 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,” Premier League Chief Executive Richard Masters said.
“Sadly, matches will have to take place without fans in stadiums, so we are pleased to have come up with a positive solution for supporters to be able to watch all the remaining 92 matches.”
Liverpool has an overwhelming 25-point lead over Manchester City for first place in the Premier League standings.
Serie A gets green light
Italy’s Sports Minister Vincenzo Spadafora said Thursday that Serie A can resume June 20. The 20-team league, which includes Cristiano Ronaldo and Juventus, was suspended March 9 due to the coronavirus outbreak in Italy.
The announcement came after the Italian government reached an agreement during a conference call with the Italian Football Federation, the players’ association and Serie A officials.
The league was expected to return June 13 before Italy extended its lockdown until June 14. Serie A was the first of Europe’s soccer leagues to suspend its season. The Italian teams each have either 12 or 13 games left to play.
Spadafora also said games could be played in Italy before Serie A’s return. He speculated that the Coppa Italia semifinals could be played on June 13 and the tournament final could be June 17.
Juventus has a one-point lead over Lazio for first place in the La Liga standings. Inter Milan, Atalanta and Roma are also in the top-5.