Premier League agrees June 17 restart following coronavirus suspension

The Premier League is set to restart its season next month, as it seeks to prevent more than £500m in losses at England’s top football clubs after fixtures were suspended because of the pandemic.

The 20 member clubs of the top tier voted on Thursday to resume matches on June 17, beginning with postponed fixtures between Aston Villa and Sheffield United, and Manchester City and Arsenal, according to two people familiar with the decision. 

All teams would be involved in a full round of fixtures the following weekend. The decision still needs government approval, however, according to the people with knowledge of the talks.

The Premier League did not immediately respond to requests for comment. An official announcement is expected following the conclusion of a meeting of clubs on Thursday.

Richard Masters, Premier League chief executive, has previously said clubs in the world’s most valuable domestic football competition face more than £1bn in losses if the remaining 92 matches of this season do not place, because of lost income from ticketing, broadcasting rights and sponsorship contracts.

Despite the agreed restart, a substantial financial hit is still expected. Lost gate receipts, because games will take place in empty stadiums for the rest of the season, will amount to £152m-£161m, according to consultancy KPMG. Some sponsors have asked for discounts to their contracts, according to club executives.

The league’s broadcasters, including Sky and BT, are demanding a rebate of between £330m and £350m to take account of viewers pausing subscriptions to sports channels and a fall in advertising income because of the lack of live action. Last week, Manchester United, the highest-earning club in the league, said it expected its costs from the broadcaster rebate would amount to £20m. But disagreement remains among clubs about how these losses should be spread between teams, while some want to repay TV companies substantially less. 

Similar issues are faced across Europe’s top leagues. 

“We’re still looking at a 20 per cent minimum revenue loss from what was expected this season and next season, and in the worst case it’s going to be double that and could even be more,” said Charlie Marshall, chief executive of the European Club Association, which represents more than 200 of the leading sides across the continent. 

Germany’s Bundesliga was the first big European league to end the moratorium on matches earlier this month, securing roughly €300m in withheld payments from broadcasters. However, it still expects match-day losses to be more than €160m. 

Spain’s La Liga also plans to resume matches next month but has said its clubs face a combined hit of at least €300m, mainly because of fixtures being played “behind closed doors”.

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