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Did not expect football to return before Christmas, says England men’s team coach Gareth Southgate

The English Premier League is all set to return on June 17 after the United Kingdom government gave a green light last month.

SNS Web | New Delhi |

England men’s football team coach Gareth Southgate has revealed that he was not expecting football to return before Christmas after the COVID-19 pandemic forced almost all the nations of the world to impose a lockdown.

All the football leagues and competitions, like other major sporting events, across Europe and other parts of the world were suspended.

German Bundesliga, meanwhile, showed the way by becoming the first league to resume matches behind closed door and now, other leagues like Premier League, La Liga and Serie A are also set to follow suit.

“I am more optimistic now than six weeks ago, in that it feels as though the world is advancing in a good direction. There was a period when I didn’t think there was going to be anything before Christmas,” Southgate was quoted as saying by the Daily Mail.

“But the Bundesliga showed what was possible and now it feels more acceptable for football to come back in our country.

“When I was talking to players during lockdown, some were worried about taking the virus home. Others were worried whether it was appropriate to be playing when people were dying in the numbers they were,” he added.

“The situation with the virus has shifted, and, with the regulations that are in place at clubs, the players are more comfortable as I speak to them.”

Had normal times prevailed Southgate would have been busy coaching the English national team in the UEFA Euro 2020. But the tournament has been postponed to 2021 due to the coronavirus situation.

“The UEFA meeting I was in on was geared around the September, October, November international fixtures going ahead. Now, that is complicated by the start of domestic leagues across Europe. There is another UEFA meeting in about 10 days when we should have more clarity,” Southgate said.

The English Premier League is all set to return on June 17 after the United Kingdom government gave a green light last month. Spanish La Liga will return on June 12, while the Italian Serie A will mark the resumption of 2019-20 season on June 20.