The English Premier League is negotiating with its UK broadcast partners about the prospect of how to complete the remaining fixtures of the 2019/20 season.
The PA news agency understands that with the target of resuming the current campaign in June, there have been discussions about how matches will be broadcast – most likely behind closed doors.
It’s been six weeks since the Premier League was suspended to try and control the coronavirus outbreak, but talks are ramping up as June edges closer.
With fans set to be unable to attend games due to social distancing measures, it’s up to the broadcasters to devise a plan for those at home to have access to these matches.
“Ministers continue to work with sports governing bodies on how live sporting events can resume in the future. This can only happen once we have passed the five tests for easing social distancing measures,” a government spokesman said.
There’s a total of 92 games remaining this season, with 47 already set to be aired between pay-TV broadcasters Sky Sports and BT Sport under current arrangements.
For the remaining 45 fixtures, PA understands the Premier League are in discussions with those broadcasters along with fellow UK package holders BBC, the public service broadcaster, and internet giant Amazon about a reasonable and proportional position on how those matches might be broadcast.
Any decisions would require consent and support from stakeholders, while it is unclear whether matches would be shown on a free-to-air basis.
Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward spoke in a quarterly fans forum held via conference call on Friday, hoping the 2019/20 season will be completed with or without fans in attendance.
“Like all of you, we are eager to see the team return to the field as soon as we are advised it is safe to do so, hopefully to complete a season which still held so much promise for us in the Premier League, the Europa League and the FA Cup when it was suspended,” Woodward said.
“We are in constant dialogue with our governing bodies about when and how that will happen and we will continue to engage with this forum to keep fans consulted.
“And while it may be that games need to be played behind closed doors in the shorter term, we all recognise that football will not be fully back to normal until supporters are once again in attendance.”