The Premier League is to end 8.15pm kick-offs in order to allow fans to comply with new pub-curfew laws.
A later start time for evening matches was introduced last season as part of a new round of broadcasting rights, but 8.15pm kick-offs make it almost impossible for the match to finish by 10pm when pubs are now expected to shut.
The Premier League has confirmed that the two matches set to be played next Monday evening have been moved forward, with Fulham hosting Aston Villa from 5.45pm, rather than 6pm, and Liverpool playing Arsenal at 8pm.
There are also no 8.15pm kick-offs in the matches due to be played on 3-4 October, with the expectation that a permanent move away from the later time will be agreed by Premier League clubs during the international break.
The possibility of pubs closing before the final whistle of a match had raised the prospect of drinkers going on to socialise at home, which might have helped to further the spread of the virus. It is unclear how many fans have returned to watching football in pubs in England this summer, though industry observers in Scotland have noted a decrease after rules insisted the volume be turned down on pub TVs.
The league has also confirmed that every game during the first matchday in October will be shown on TV. The 10 fixtures will be shared between Sky Sports and BT Sport, with the broadcasters showing six and four matches respectively.
Whether to continue full live coverage of every match now that stricter Covid-19 restrictions means the end of fans returning to grounds is likely to be top of the agenda for clubs when they next meet.
It is expected October’s matches will all be televised, with games also on Amazon and BBC, but with fans now thought unable to return to matches before the spring there will also be a longer-term question to answer.
Supporters’ groups feel fans should be able to watch their team on television but some clubs may be wary of the precedent that increases the number of games shown without equivalent increases in the amount broadcasters are expected to pay.