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Premier League chief optimistic about fans returning to stadiums next season

Richard Masters updates on playing remaining games and plans for the 2020/21 campaign.

By Bruce Talbot • 01 June 2020

By Paul Hazlewood

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters is optimistic that Albion fans and those of other top-flight clubs will be able to watch their teams in stadiums next season.

The current campaign, which has been on hold since March 9 because of the Covid-19 pandemic, is due to resume on June 17 with the Seagulls playing the first of their nine remaining games on the weekend of June 20-21 against Arsenal behind closed doors at the Amex.

There is no date yet for the start of the 2020-21 campaign and although it is almost certain to begin behind closed doors Masters is hopeful that won’t be the case for too long.

He said: “No one knows when matches will move away from the behind-closed-doors model.

“Obviously it’s right to have contingency plans in place, but there is optimism at the Premier League and at clubs that we will start to see fans back in the stadiums next season, and it may happen on a phased basis.

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“The start date for next season has been discussed but we are dealing with the issues of 2019/20 as a priority. We will come onto the issues of start date for next season when we have more assurity on when we can finish.”

All 92 remaining games will be televised with a third available on free-to-air channels, including 25 on Sky TV and another four on BBC. Masters believes that the schedule for playing the remaining matches is a positive one for supporters, even though they won’t be in stadiums supporting their team.

He added: “Obviously we have our mind on a number of things when putting together a new fixture schedule: when we can start, when we can finish; our clubs are also involved in the FA Cup; a number of our clubs are still in European competitions and we have the start of next season not very far away now.

“So what we’re trying to do it put together a balance of interests – to balance the needs of our players and those of our stakeholders and other competitions to get the balance right. You are going to see discreet slots, so Friday night, four matches on a Saturday, four matches on a Sunday and a Monday evening game.

“You’re going to see staggered games across midweeks and that’s really so people can see the matches on television and give people as much access as possible to them.”

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