The Premier League is set to resume on June 17 after the clubs gave “Project Restart” the green light at a shareholders’ meeting on Thursday.
Sources have told ESPN that Manchester City vs. Arsenal and Aston Villa at home to Sheffield United will be the first fixtures, taking all teams to 29 matches played.
The remaining 90 games will then continue from the following weekend with a match likely to be moved for television on Friday 19 June, preceding a full programme.
Their aim is to complete all League fixtures by Aug. 1. After that date, the FA Cup can then be completed — with the final anticipated on Aug. 8 — in addition to the remaining Champions League and Europa League fixtures, assuming the coronavirus pandemic has subsided to the extent international travel is allowed.
A variety of topics were discussed at Thursday’s meeting including the possibility of staging friendlies at training grounds with teams in close proximity, minimising travel and therefore any further spread of the coronavirus.
Several clubs are thought to have expressed a desire for four more weeks’ preparation having only approved contact training in a vote on Wednesday, but the league’s desire to resume sooner in addition to pressure from UEFA to complete domestic matches by the beginning of August forced a compromise.
The Premier League was suspended on March 13 with the last game, Leicester’s 4-0 win over Aston Villa, played on March 9.
A total of 100 days will have passed by the time matches resume behind closed doors with opposition from players subsiding after three rounds of tests totalling 2,752 people yielded just 12 positive cases.
Testing capacity will be increased from 50 to 60 per club with anyone testing positive for COVID-19 asked to self-isolate for seven days.
Liverpool, without a league title since 1990, lead the Premier League table by 25 points ahead of nearest challengers Manchester City.