Several clubs expressed opposition against plans to resume the 2019/20 campaign at neutral venues, including Brighton and Aston Villa, and there were fears that police and local authorities would not allow football to return any other way.
The football policing lead, Deputy Chief Constable Mark Roberts of South Yorkshire Police, had warned that playing the remainder of the season in the Premier League and the EFL entirely on a home-and-away basis would “present challenges” to the emergency services.
However, positive discussions between the government, police chiefs and Premier League bosses have taken place – paving the way for games to be played at each of the 20 clubs’ stadiums as normal, with no fans in attendance.
DCC Roberts said: “Following a positive meeting between police, Government and football last night, we will be jointly exploring a range of options to identify a way forward, which minimises any risks to public safety and unnecessary pressure on public services, but facilitates a sensible restart to the season, to support the economic and morale benefits associated with the sport.”
The Government’s Covid-19 recovery strategy document, published on Monday, states that sports events behind closed doors could return in England as early as June 1, but that “large-scale social contact” was to be avoided.
The Premier League are aiming to restart the season on June 12 and will hold a video meeting with players and managers on Wednesday to discuss safety concerns.
PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor says Project Restart could be achievable, if players are open-minded.
Taylor said: “We’ve got the best possible people available to answer the questions on different issues like testing, if someone tests positive, spitting, social distancing and BAME players with regard to the data which suggestions they are more susceptible.
“It’s about giving the reassurances to players and what they are asking to make sure everything that can be done is being done as far as possible.
“If you’re asking me, with the type of guarantees or assurances that would give confidence to the players, then (returning is) achievable.
“We’ve got to try it, see it if we can do it and see if we can return to some form of activity. But it’s also being as careful and having as many assurances as possible that it’s achievable.
“We have to be open-minded. There’s a balance between what you hope can be done and what is realistic to achieve.”