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British culture secretary in talks with Premier League 'to get football up and running as soon as possible'

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The Premier League season could be back up and running again soon (Martin Rickett/PA)

The Premier League season could be back up and running again soon (Martin Rickett/PA)

PA

The Premier League season could be back up and running again soon (Martin Rickett/PA)

Talks are ongoing to get the Premier League up and running as soon as possible, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has said.

Dowden's department is leading discussions on how professional sport can restart should coronavirus lockdown restrictions be eased, with weekly meetings from this week onwards due to take place between medical officials from the major sports governing bodies and representatives of Public Health England.

It is understood the Premier League's medical adviser Mark Gillett and the English Football Association's head of medicine Charlotte Cowie will be among those involved in the Government discussions.

Any resumption of sport could only happen if the Government's five tests are fulfilled, covering such areas as NHS capacity, the availability of testing and PPE and a fall in the death and infection rates. It is accepted that for the foreseeable future this would be about sporting events happening behind closed doors.

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The Premier League's resumption is being kept under constant review, with the clubs set to gather for a shareholders' meeting on Friday.

Dowden, speaking at a parliamentary questions session for the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said: "I personally have been in talks with the Premier League with a view to getting football up and running as soon as possible in order to support the whole football community.

"But, of course, any such moves would have to be consistent with public health guidance."

Other European leagues are working towards a restart.

The German Bundesliga is due to return next month, subject to clearance from the relevant authorities, with its clubs already back in training.

France's Ligue 1 is targeting a mid-June return with players set to begin returning to training on May 11, while in Italy the prime minister Giuseppe Conte said sports teams could resume group training from May 18.

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British Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden

British Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden

PA

British Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden

The Italian football federation (FIGC) will hold a meeting of its executive council on May 8 to present its plans to a government scientific committee.

FIGC president Gabriele Gravina said: "We have always said that we want to start again when the conditions have been met and the horizon envisaged by the government allows us to do it.

"We are convinced of the path we have taken because it is serious and responsible, the only one that pursues the general interest of the system (of relaxing restrictions) and the more complex one of Italian sport which, for various reasons, would also be damaged by the definitive stop of the Serie A championship."

Online Editors