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Timeline for return of football revealed - these are the key dates

Ipswich Town's famous Portman Road stadium has been closed amid the coronavirus pandemic - and when football returns, it's unlikely that fans will be allowed to attend. Picture: MARK HEATH

Ipswich Town's famous Portman Road stadium has been closed amid the coronavirus pandemic - and when football returns, it's unlikely that fans will be allowed to attend. Picture: MARK HEATH

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As Arsenal today became the first professional club in England to re-open their training ground to allow players to train individually during the coronavirus pandemic, the timeline for football to return has been revealed in national newspaper reports - here it is.

Ipswich Town players can't return to training until May 16 at the earliest Picture: ROSS HALLSIpswich Town players can't return to training until May 16 at the earliest Picture: ROSS HALLS

While Ipswich Town players can’t return to training until May 16 at the earliest under EFL guidelines, The Times claims a cross-sports working group is preparing a report on how football and other sports can safely return to action in the summer.

According to the report, the Premier League will resume in early June, after a three-week mini pre-season to allow players to get back up to speed.

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The Times also claim that the remaining 92 games are likely to be played at a limited number of neutral venues across the country, that are deemed safe and can be effectively policed.

Paul Lambert's Ipswich Town have eight games left to play. Picture: STEVE WALLERPaul Lambert's Ipswich Town have eight games left to play. Picture: STEVE WALLER

While the report only discusses the Premier League, it will clearly have knock-on implications for Ipswich Town and the rest of the EFL.

Town have eight games left to play, with EFL boss Rick Parry previously saying that the league could finish its seasons in 56 days, including play-ofs.

In every scenario, games are almost certain to be played behind closed doors.

Here are the key dates in the return to football plan...

- Monday, April 27: Arsenal are the first side to return to training. Players train individually.

- Thursday, May 7: Potential relaxation of government lockdown restrictions.

- Monday, May 18 - Sunday, June 7: Premier League clubs return to training while adhering to strict social distancing measures with a three-week window for a mini pre-season before matches.

- Monday, June 8 - Monday, July 27: Matches resume behind closed doors with aim to complete the outstanding 92 games in an eight-week period. Seven outstanding FA Cup ties could be completed within this window.

- Monday, August 3 - Friday, August 21: After a one-week break, players return for pre-season lasting between one and four weeks ahead of the 2020-21 campaign.

- Saturday, August 22: New 2020/21 Premier League season kicks off with European and domestic cup competitions planned as normal.

- Saturday, September 12: Latest possible start for 2020-2021 season, but could mean shorter league and cup programmes.

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