All the latest on events impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic…

Premier League

The Premier League season will restart behind closed doors on Wednesday, June 17.

The first games will be Aston Villa versus Sheffield United and Manchester City versus Arsenal. The two matches are games in hand, with a full matchday to then be played on the weekend of June 19-21.

Most Premier League clubs have confirmed they will issue full refunds to fans for tickets and season tickets when it has been confirmed that matches will take place behind closed doors.

A meeting of Premier League clubs is still taking place, with further details still to be released as to the completion of the nine matchdays and 92 fixtures remaining. It is hoped the season can be completed by the weekend of August 1-2, with the FA Cup final to then be scheduled for the following Saturday (August 8).

The last Premier League game to be played was Leicester City’s defeat of Aston Villa on March 9. The competition was suspended on March 13 due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

It is also expected that the resumption of Italy’s Serie A will be confirmed later today following a meeting between Italian Sports Minister Vincenzo Spadafora and the head of the Italian Football Federation, Gabriele Gravina. It is thought games will start on either June 13 or 20.

Meanwhile, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has confirmed a further delay to the start of the domestic season, which will not begin before August 1. The ECB said the specifics of the season are subject to ongoing advice from the UK government and health experts but it is hoped that both men’s and women’s domestic cricket can be held later in the summer.

 

SoFi Stadium

Los Angeles Rams has confirmed ticket-holders will be entitled to swift refunds should NFL games be cancelled or played behind closed doors after it was confirmed that the first-ever game at SoFi Stadium will be held on August 14.

The new 70,000-seater stadium in Inglewood was due to open with two Taylor Swift concerts in late July, but those events were cancelled due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Following the release of the NFL schedule for 2020-21, the Rams’ games have now been confirmed, with the first pre-season fixture at SoFi Stadium to be played against New Orleans Saints on August 14 at 7pm. The Chargers, who will also play at SoFi Stadium, play their first game at the venue 24 hours later, on August 15 against Dallas Cowboys.

The Rams and Chargers will play each other at their joint home on August 22.

The first regular season NFL game at SoFi Stadium will be played on September 13, when the Rams host the Dallas Cowboys.

Due to the ongoing uncertainty caused by COVID-19, there remains a chance that games will be played without spectators or cancelled completely, in which case the Rams confirmed that any tickets purchased directly from the team or through Ticketmaster will be refunded within 30 days.

Last week, NFL owners voted unanimously to provide Rams owner Stan Kroenke with an additional $500m (£408m/€454m) in financing to help complete SoFi Stadium. The budget of the stadium is now said to have risen from an initially projected $2.2bn to between $5bn and $6bn.

 

Disney World

Walt Disney World in Florida has unveiled plans for a new advanced reservation process after announcing it will reopen in July.

The theme park resort, which attracts 58 million visitors each year, will reopen the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom on July 11 and EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios on July 15.

As part of the guidelines and procedures that Walt Disney World is putting into place, the company has stated that it will not be selling new tickets at this time and advanced reservations will be required to enter the parks.

“Because theme park capacity will be significantly limited as we welcome guests back to the magic, we will manage attendance through a new theme park reservation system that will require all guests to obtain a reservation for park entry in advance,” the Walt Disney Company said.

“At this time, we are temporarily pausing new ticket sales and Disney Resort hotel reservations so we can focus on guests with existing tickets and reservations.

“Ticket holders and Annual Passholders will be able to make reservation requests in phases before new tickets are sold; we’ll be reaching out to these guests soon to provide additional details. We will resume new ticket sales and hotel reservations after that period of time.”

Earlier this month Disney revealed it had lost an estimated $1.4bn in the previous three months due primarily to a loss of ticketing revenue from COVID-19 forcing the closure of its theme parks. Its Shanghai reopened earlier this month after being shuttered in January. The Disney theme park in Japan was closed in February with US and European resorts following suit a month later.