Premier League clubs meeting to discuss ‘Project Restart’ as government offer no timescale over when live sport can resume

Premier League clubs will meet again on Monday to discuss plans to restart the 2019/20 season – but there appears little prospect of football resuming any time soon.

The determination remains to complete the campaign but Prime Minister Boris Johnson looked to have put the brakes on a swift return for professional sport on Sunday after revealing the coronavirus transmission rate is still too high to significantly ease the lockdown.

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No football has been played in England since early March due to the coronavirus pandemic
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Johnson indicated that – while the general population will be allowed to exercise outdoors more than once a day and play sports from Wednesday – they must do so only with those in their own households.

“We want to encourage more and even unlimited amounts of outdoor exercise,” Johnson said in his Sunday evening televised address to the nation.

“You can sit in the sun in your local park, you can drive to other destinations, you can even play sports but only with members of your own households.”

The message would seem to rule out the prospect of football clubs going back to full training anytime soon and does not improve the prospects of finishing seasons which were brought to a halt by the public health crisis.

However, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Oliver Dowden tweeted: “In tentative steps & in the least risky outdoor environments, we can imminently allow some sports activity like golf, basketball, tennis, fishing – solo/in households. Guidance to follow.”

Football continues to grapple with the potential challenges of a return to action, with a third Brighton player and five LaLiga players testing positive for the virus.

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Brighton, who turned their stadium into a coronavirus test centre, revealed on Sunday that a third player had contracted the disease
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Brighton’s chief executive Paul Barber said the unnamed player will go into 14-day isolation. Two other players, whose names have also not been revealed by the club, contracted the virus earlier in the pandemic.

They are understood to have since recovered but it is not clear whether or not they have returned to training yet.

Concerns over player safety are not the only obstacle facing ‘Project Restart’ when talks resume on Monday over plans to restart the Premier League.

Brighton have been critical of the idea that play should resume at neutral venues, despite warning it could be a deal-breaker on football resuming at all.

Villa and Watford have joined Brighton in speaking out against plans to play the remaining 92 games at neutral venues behind closed doors.

Villa’s chief executive, Christian Purslow, told talkSPORT last week: “We are a club that prides itself on our home form; I think two thirds of our wins this season have come at home.

“We’ve got six home games left to play so I think any Villa fan will agree that giving up that advantage is a massive decision for somebody running Aston Villa. And I certainly wouldn’t agree to that, unless the circumstances were right.”

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