The timetable for Manchester United’s return to football is starting to look clearer after a number of developments this week.
First, Arsenal announced that they will return to training at their London Colney ground from Monday under strict conditions, with only small groups allowed to train together. The Gunners’ move is likely to spur other clubs to follow suit as they aim to maintain player fitness and relieve boredom and one might expect to see the Red Devils return to Carrington within the next week or so.
The second shift this week has been the firming up by Premier League chiefs of a potential early June date for resuming the 2019/20 season, according to The Telegraph. Dubbed ‘Project Restart’, a weekly meeting between the Government and ‘senior industry medics’ has been agreed to thrash out a safe and viable way in which football can resume.
‘The plan to stage weekly meetings was described by a source as a “quickening of the pace” and intended to help sport resume – albeit behind closed doors – “within weeks” if possible’, The Telegraph says.
‘Testing, social distancing, hygiene standards and caps on the numbers of people allowed in venues will all be discussed in preparation for current lockdown restrictions being eased – potentially early next month.’
The target date for the Premier League’s return is June 8th, when matches will take place behind closed doors, again under strict conditions.
This is within a week of our predicted fixture list published two weeks ago, which shows United resuming their Premier League campaign against Spurs on June 13th/14th ahead of a Premier League completion by the middle of July, FA Cup completion by the end of July and a potential Europa League final on August 24th, in line with UEFA’s own plans to complete the season.
The fact that the German Bundesliga is scheduled to resume on May 9th gives further hope that the plans for a May return to training ahead of a June restart are realistic.
Of course, a lot will depend on the progression of the coronavirus, with a number of minimum safety targets needing to be met. Safety at the ground is not the only concern as executives are planning to make all matches available to be televised, many on a free-to-air basis, to discourage fans from congregating outside grounds or in each other’s homes.
With all that being said, there is room to be very optimistic that we will finally see the Red Devils back in action in six weeks’ time.
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