PM casts doubt over imminent resumption for professional sport

An imminent return of professional sport remains unclear as Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled his staged plan to ease the coronavirus lockdown restrictions.

Addressing the four nations of the UK last night, Johnson revealed a three-part strategy to kickstart the economy and reopen society. However, no mention to professional sports was made, casting uncertainty over when the sporting calendar will return.

Johnson revealed that the government has eased certain social restrictions, including the limit on outdoor exercise. From Wednesday, it is possible for people to play sports with ‘members of their own household’, with some tennis courts and golf clubs set to reopen this week – on the discretion of governing bodies.

Further details of the strategy are due to be discussed in Parliament later today. The government is expected to announce that some elite athletes can begin the initial phase of restricted group training later this week.

It comes as speculation over a restart date for the Premier League and UK racing begins to grow.

Premier League clubs are due to meet today to discuss plans on ‘Project Restart’’, in the hope of securing a June resumption date to conclude league proceedings.

The EPL has submitted new proposals to the government on the viability of group training, and further protocols relating to both player and staff testing, underlining that matches will be held under peak sanitary conditions.

The discussion will hear from both player representatives and managers before football officials meet with Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden on Thursday. PM Johnson is reported to have backed the EPL plans, as a further measure to lift the nation’s spirit during pandemic times.

The Resumption of Racing Group is also due to meet later today to look at the steps which can be taken for the sport to return.

The sport has been suspended since 17 March, however there has been suggestions that the sport could resume later this week. However, the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has remained cautious about naming a resumption date.

Speaking to Sky Sports Racing last week, BHA COO Richard Wayman explained: ““I don’t think it would have been the right thing for us to come out and name a date, it would have been an arbitrary date. Our aim is to ensure when we’re given the green light we’re ready to go.

“One of the worst things that could happen for racing or any sport is for it to resume then after a few weeks have to stop because we haven’t got it right. We’re really dependent on the work of Dr Jerry Hill the chief medical adviser of the BHA who’s working with other sports to ensure when it does resume it does so in a safe way.

“We need to make sure we’ve gone through every possible step to make sure that the return is a safe one.”

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