Leeds United want to finish their season and win promotion to the Premier League on the pitch and that prospect was given a big boost by Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden on Monday.
The cabinet minister was talking on Sky Sports and talkSPORT where he said that he was “very hopeful” that the Premier League and the Championship would return in mid-June after “constructive” talks with the governing bodies last week.
Dowden was talking on Sky Sports News (Monday, 8am) ahead of a pivotal Premier League vote on stage one of Project Restart.
“I had some very constructive discussions on Thursday with the FA, the EFL and the Premier League,” Dowden said.
“We are working hard with them to get it back, we’re aiming for mid-June but the number one test is public safety.
“If we can do this in a safe way… they, like a lot of other sports, are looking at returning behind closed doors.
“If we can sort that out then I am hoping we can resume in mid-June.”
Dowden went on to say that he was also hoping that some games would be available on free-to-air channels when the seasons did resume.
Later on talkSPORT (Monday, 10am), Dowden said, “I’m very hopeful that we will by the middle of June see the return of the Premier League and then soon after that the Championship.”
We’re all desperate to see football restart in the UK and the Bundesliga showed the way forward over the weekend.
It might have been a different sort of experience, with no fans, but the football was good and the players coped with a return to action after weeks out of the game.
That’s a brilliant sign for UK football and everything now seems to be on course for a mid-June return.
Getting government approval is one of the key steps necessary and while Dowden’s comments stop short of declaring it ‘safe to go’ it’s very encouraging.
The other good point from a Leeds’ perspective is that Dowden wasn’t just talking about the top-flight.
He name-checked the EFL and that means that both the Premier League and the Championship are on course for a restart.
That’s the very best possible path for Leeds to secure promotion and it would scupper the bid from some clubs in the Premier League to block Leeds’ promotion if the Championship doesn’t resume.
What’s more, it looks like Leeds will get the chance to secure promotion at Elland Road, albeit without the fans.
In other Leeds United news, ‘Only option’ – Harry Redknapp delivers Leeds promotion verdict if Project Restart fails