Sheffield United set to kick-off the Premier League's 'Project Restart'

Sheffield United will reportedly take part in the first Premier League game since the season was suspended because of the Covid-19 pandemic in March, after being told they will visit Aston Villa on June 17.

Thursday, 28th May 2020, 4:28 pm

The match appears to be the curtain-raiser for ‘Project Restart’ - the competition’s plan to complete this term’s remaining 92 fixtures by early August - before the new campaign begins around a month later.

The revised fixture schedule - Chris Wilder’s side had been set to face Newcastle at St James’ Park before the mass postponements were first announced - was among a number of matters discussed at today’s teleconference between representatives of England’s leading 20 clubs.

Although Wilder will not welcome the change to the original programme, arguing earlier this week that it should be retained, he is expected to be encouraged that dates have also been pencilled in on the proposed calendar for the FA Cup.

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United, who were seventh in the table when the sport entered lockdown, had also reached the quarter-finals when the season was mothballed. They are scheduled to face Arsenal at home, with the winners of the tournament gaining entry into the Europa League.

Chief executive Steve Bettis, United’s delegate at the meeting, is likely to have echoed Wilder’s concerns about making alterations to the order in which matches are staged. The two men are known to enjoy an excellent working relationship, and frequently appear together at media conferences.

However, United’s hierarchy recently signalled they were prepared to make compromises in order to ensure the season was not curtailed prematurely or, worse still, declared null and void.

Indeed, until fears were expressed that some of their top-flight rivals favoured the later option, they adopted a policy of listening to all the arguments put forward before deciding their own position.

General view of Bramall Lane, Sheffield. Picture date: 22nd November 2019. Picture credit should read: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

Reigning champions Manchester City are also set to return to action on June 17, after being told they will host Mikel Arteta’s squad on the same day as United travel to the Midlands.

Those two fixtures are the ‘games in hand’ the four clubs enjoy over their fellow PL members.

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