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The English Premier League, the world’s most widely watched and richest soccer division, is set to restart on June 17, with the number of games televised expected to be dramatically increased.
The restart was confirmed by Comcast-owned Sky Sports, which owns the majority of EPL game rights in the U.K., and comes just days after all clubs unanimously agreed to resume contact training.
The league suspended all games in mid-March — weeks before the government-enforced lockdown went into effect — due to the growing novel coronavirus pandemic. Having kicked off on Aug. 9, the season was originally intended to wrap on May 17, with Liverpool expected to be crowned champions for the first time in 30 years.
Aston Villa vs. Sheffield United and Manchester City vs Arsenal will be first two games played when the EPL resumes.
The news lands two weeks after the German Bundesliga resumed, with games played behind closed doors.
With fans across the world, the English Premier League has become one of the most expensive battle grounds over TV rights, with billions of dollars spent each year. In the U.K., the 2019-20 cycle cost £5 billion ($6.3 billion), with Sky claiming the most matches, followed by BT Sport and Amazon, which became the first streaming service to win rights.
Overseas, networks paid a combined total of £4.2 billion ($5.3 billion) for the same cycle, up £1 billion ($1.2 billion) from the previous arrangement.
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