Project Restart: The plan to get Norwich City’s Premier League season up and running
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The Premier League is reportedly drawing up plans to restart the season in early June, should the government and public health bodies relax the current lockdown restrictions in place due to the global pandemic.
Norwich City have not played since losing to Sheffield United on March 7 and have potentially nine league games left, in their relegation tussle, and an FA Cup quarter-final home tie against Manchester United.
Now the Times report on Monday that in line with government requests for sporting organisations to step up planning they have drafted a ‘Project Restart’ schedule, which could allow games to take place as early as June 8 behind closed doors at neutral venues.
Currently all professional football in the UK has been suspended until it is ‘safe to resume’ due to the coronavirus spread, with City and the rest of the top flight set to meet again remotely on Friday at their latest shareholders’ meeting. Alongside the Premier League’s planning, a cross-sports working group, led by David Mahoney, the chief operating officer of the England and Wales cricket board, and Nick Peirce, the ECB’s chief medical officer, will present a proposal to government officials addressing the logistical challenges of staging sporting events during the crisis.
The Premier League’s plan is reportedly to resume in early June which allows for a three-week ‘pre-season’ when players would be training in full-contact sessions. City’s squad are currently training individually away from Colney.
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Arsenal were scheduled to re-open their training ground on Monday, although only five players are allowed to use their pitches at any one time, with no contact work permitted.
The football authorities in Germany, France and Italy have all indicated in recent days they are working towards a resumption of the domestic seasons.
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• In England, The Times article also maps out the following hypothetical Premier League and FA Cup timeline
Thursday, May 7
Potential relaxation of government lockdown measures.
Friday, May 15
Final Premier League meeting to set out plans for return to action.
Monday, May 18 to Sunday, June 7
Premier League clubs return to training while adhering to strict social distancing measures with a three-week window for a mini pre-season before matches.
Monday, June 8 to Monday, July 27
Matches resume behind closed doors with aim to complete the outstanding 92 games in an eight-week period. Seven outstanding FA Cup ties could be completed within this window.
Monday, August 3 to Friday, August 21
After a one-week break, players return for pre-season lasting between one and four weeks ahead of the 2020-21 campaign.
Sunday, August 9 to Saturday, August 29
Champions League and Europa League campaigns completed in a three-week block.
Saturday, August 22
New Premier League season kicks off with European and domestic cup competitions planned as normal.
Saturday, August 29
Champions League final in Istanbul.
Saturday, September 12
Latest possible start for 2020/21 season but could mean shorter league and cup programmes.