“While it is too soon to know with any certainty if, or when, those measures can fully be relaxed, we are optimistic that it will soon be possible to resume playing football,” he said.
“Our men’s first team has begun a phased return to training this week, with rigorous medical protocols in place to manage risks. Subject to Government and Premier League shareholder approval, including input from medical staff and players, we anticipate domestic games could restart again in June. Furthermore, all indications from UEFA are that the culmination of the Europa League could be in August.
“We remain in constant dialogue with the Premier League, the FA and UEFA about the next steps towards returning to play, while continuing to protect the health of our players, staff and the wider public.
“We are encouraged by the return of the German Bundesliga which was the first major European league to restart last weekend, with the successful completion of nine matches, all played behind closed doors. While no one in the football industry enjoys seeing football without fans in the stadiums, the TV audiences attracted to the German matches demonstrates the strong pent-up demand for live football after a two-month absence.
“Players have also returned to training in Spain, Italy, Portugal and several other European countries, all with the aim of completing the 2019-20 season, so there is clear momentum behind efforts to get football going again across Europe’s major leagues. All in all, as we sit here today, as many as 32 countries are expected to restart by the end of June.
“As in Germany and elsewhere, it is now inevitable that our matches will initially be played behind closed doors when the season resumes. This is as disappointing for us as it is for our fans, but we hope it will allow the men’s first team to complete all of its competitions in the current 2019/20 season by the end of August, and to start next season in time to target completion of next season still in May 2021.
“While there are still many uncertainties to resolve, we are looking forward to Ole and the team returning to the pitch soon to defend the strong momentum they achieved with their 11-game unbeaten run in the Premier League, Europa League and FA Cup immediately before the season was suspended in mid-March.