J.League top tier to restart on July 4

Ange Postecoglou and Erik of Yokohama F. Marinos celebrate a goal Source: Getty Images

The top division of Japan's J.League is expected to restart on July 4 following a four-month delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Executives from Japan's top clubs voted to resume the season after restrictions were lifted across the country this week.

Each team had only played one league match when the J.League was suspended in late February, including Ange Postecoglou's defending champions, Yokohama F. Marinos.

Due to the restrictions still in place to prevent the further spread of the virus, the matches will be played in empty stadiums without fans.

In March, the J.League announced that there would be no relegation this season but that if 75 per cent of the campaign is completed then the top two teams in the second and third tiers will automatically be promoted.

The start date was approved after a panel of medical experts told J.League and Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) officials that it was possible to resume play from mid-June.

NPB announced earlier in the week that their season, which was postponed without a ball being thrown, will begin on June 19, also without fans.

The J.League has decided to give its players, some of whom returned to training in the last few days, five weeks to rebuild their conditioning ahead of the restart.

The full fixture list will be announced on June 15, with officials saying that they intend for all the remaining games to be played.

Japan's second tier, the J2 League, will restart one week earlier on June 27, along with the start of the J3 League season, which hadn't begun when the virus first struck.

Source AAP