Soccer

Reports: Sacramento set to announce MLS expansion team early next week

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USATSI

Reports: Sacramento set to announce MLS expansion team early next week

Major League Soccer's 29th team reportedly will be in Sacramento. 

MLS will announce Monday that it is awarding its next expansion team to Sacramento in a downtown press conference, The Sacramento Bee reported Tuesday citing "sources with direct knowledge of the deal." KCRA-TV and KOVR-TV later confirmed The Bee's reporting.

The Bee reported the club will play as Sacramento Republic FC, and KOVR-TV reported that they officially will join the league in 2022. Republic FC, which has played in the second tier of American soccer in the United Soccer League, tweeted a pair of statements Tuesday and said the team will share "more information in the days ahead."

The Sacramento City Council unanimously approved a non-binding term sheet in April that calls for Republic FC to build a $252 million stadium on undeveloped land in the downtown railyards and for the city to provide a $33 million incentive package. The package included $2.4 million in tax rebates and waived building permit fees, as well as $27 million from a future increased property tax to reimburse Republic FC for building infrastructure near the stadium.

Sacramento mayor Darrell Steinberg, according to The Bee, will propose the City Council modify the agreement to make the $27 million a loan to be paid back with interest by the Sacramento investor group, which is now led by Pittsburgh Penguins co-owner Ron Burkle after he agreed to acquire a controlling interest in Republic FC in January. 

The MLS board of governors voted unanimously in April to expand the league from 27 to 30 teams, inviting investor groups in St. Louis and Sacramento to submit bids. MLS awarded St. Louis its 28th franchise in August, and The Bee reported Sacramento's investor group has been in negotiations with MLS since late April. 

Sacramento will join three other teams -- and potential rivals -- in California: the San Jose Earthquakes, LA Galaxy and top-of-the-table LAFC. Republic FC would become the fifth team ever to play in the state, as C.D. Guadalajara-associated Chivas USA folded in 2014. 

Premier League set to restart play from coronavirus pause on June 17

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AP

Premier League set to restart play from coronavirus pause on June 17

The Premier League is set to restart.

On Thursday, shareholders gave "Project Restart" the green light for play to start back up June 17. According to ESPN's James Olley, there will be two games on June 17, with Manchester City facing Arsenal and Sheffield United hosting Aston Villa. That will bring all clubs to 29 matches played, with the remaining 90 games left on the slate to start up the following weekend.

The Premier League's goal is to have all league games finished by Aug. 1 with the FA Cup to be complete with the final to be played on Aug. 8. As for the remaining Champions League and Europa League games, those also are slated to be completed if the pandemic calms down to allow international travel.

According to Olley, a number of clubs asked for more time to ramp up training before the restart given contact training was just given the OK on Wednesday. But the desire for a sooner restart and pressure from UEFA to complete all domestic matches by August had the league settle on June 17.

[RELATED: What PL's positive coronavirus tests mean for league restart]

The Premier League has had 12 positive coronavirus tests through the first three rounds. When the league restarts, testing capacity will be increased to 50 to 60 tests per club. Anyone testing positive must self-isolate for seven days.

The league suspended play March 13. One hundred days will have passed by the time the league starts back up June 17.

Premier League approves contact training as Project Restart hits Phase 2

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AP

Premier League approves contact training as Project Restart hits Phase 2

The Premier League took another step toward its restart Wednesday, as all 20 clubs voted unanimously to allow contact training as the league enters Phase 2 of Project Restart.

"Premier League shareholders today voted unanimously to resume contact training -- marking another step towards restarting the Premier League season, when safe to do so," the league said in a statement. "Squads are now able to train as a group and engage in tackling while minimising any unnecessary close contact."

"The Premier League's priority is the health and wellbeing of all participants. Strict medical protocols are in place to ensure the training ground is the safest environment possible and players and staff will continue to be tested for COVID-19 twice a week.

"Stage Two of the Return to Training protocol has been agreed following consultation with clubs, players, managers, the PFA (Professional Footballers' Association), the LMA (League Managers' Association) and the Government. Discussions are ongoing as work continues towards resuming the season when conditions allow."

The shareholders will meet again Thursday to discuss issues related to the restart, including a start date, television schedules and more, according to ESPN"s James Olley. Sources told ESPN that the June 12 return date now is viewed as too soon for players to build up their conditioning and that June 19 or June 26 is more likely.

The Premier League now has had 12 positive coronavirus (COVID-19) tests after the third round of testing, the league announced Wednesday.

All players and staff will be tested twice a week as the training continues, and the league will have discussions on contingency plans on what to do should issues arise.

[RELATED: What PL's positive coronavirus tests mean for season restart]

Some players have decided not to return to their clubs due to the risk of contracting the virus, including Chelsea midfielder N'Golo Kante.

The UK government is supportive of the effort for the Premier League to restart its season in a safe way following the guidance of public health officials. Play has been suspended since March 13.