Manchester United are expected to be back in action in approximately eight weeks’ time, according to The Mirror.
The outlet reports that the Premier League bosses ‘have been given a tentative green light’ to resume the competition behind closed doors in June.
Government officials expect coronavirus cases to peak over the next few weeks and if that does happen, they are willing to let football recommence under strict conditions that will ensure players’ protection.
United had originally set a date of April 10th to return to training but this is now likely to be pushed back until May and ‘League officials have also discussed extensive measures to keep the players in a sterile environment as much as possible, limiting contact with the wider public.’
The Red Devils have nine more Premier League fixtures to complete, against Spurs (A), Sheffield United (H), Brighton (A), Bournemouth (H), Aston Villa (A), Southampton (H), Crystal Palace (A), West Ham (H) and Leicester (A).
Assuming games are played in the same order that they were originally scheduled, the first match will be the away fixture against Spurs, followed by the home tie with Sheffield United.
United currently lie fifth in the Premier League table, which will be sufficient to qualify for next season’s Champions League if Manchester City’s UEFA ban is upheld. However, Sheffield United lie two points behind the Reds with a game in hand, so the game against the Blades could be a six-pointer.
There is every hope of being able to field a full-strength squad for the remaining fixtures, with Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford nearing fitness after long-term lay-offs.
The Mirror’s article does not state the target date for completing the fixtures, but previous reports have suggested that July 16 is a critical point in the calendar as it is the cut-off date for fulfilment of TV rights contracts with Sky and BT Sport. In this case, two matches would need to be played each week to complete the season on time.
It is hoped that fans will be discouraged from trying to attend matches by allowing wider broadcast of games, with terrestrial channels expected to benefit as Sky and BT Sport do not have the capacity to show all games.
The FA and UEFA will make separate decisions about resumption of the FA Cup and Europa League, other competitions in which the Red Devils are still involved.
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