Premier League braced for 2nd wave of virus as shutdown ends

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              FILE - In this Saturday March 14, 2020 file photo an almost empty stadium approaches are seen around the Etihad Stadium where Manchester City was due to play Burnley in an English Premier League soccer match after all English soccer games were cancelled due to the spread of the COVID-19 Coronavirus. The Premier League resumes Wednesday June 17 after its three-month suspension because of the coronavirus outbreak. (AP Photo/Jon Super, File)
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MANCHESTER, England (AP) — With the Premier League set to resume after a 100-day shutdown, it is already making plans for what to do if a second spike of coronavirus infections prevents games being played again.

The league’s priority for now is staging the remaining 92 games by July 26, starting Wednesday with Aston Villa hosting Sheffield United and Manchester City playing Arsenal. There is even hope the government will allow fans back into stadium when next season is scheduled to begin in September.

What the league is yet to resolve is securing agreement among clubs on how to conclude the season — this one or in the future — if it cannot be completed.

“We will be going into next season with a clearer understanding of what is going to happen in various eventualities but everybody has learned an enormous amount which is going to help,” Premier League chief executive Richard Masters said Tuesday. “What we have learned is you have to be nimble and responsive and you have to have contingency plans.

“We know that there is a prospect of a second spike and we will be ready and anticipating of that in our planning and hoping to return to a full Premier League season.”

The league, like the rest of Britain, will be assessing the trajectory of COVID-19 cases and the rate of infection as lockdown measures are eased.

The hope is that the relaxation of social distancing rules will eventually allow supporters to return to venues for the first time since March.

“There are embryonic cross-talk discussions going on at government level regarding going back to fans coming in to sports events generally,” Masters said, “and we would be a willing participant in all of that as soon as it is safe and appropriate to do so.”