NFL: League on track for full season starting on September 10

FILE PHOTO: Nov 3, 2019; London, United Kingdom; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew (15) throws a pass under pressure from Houston Texans outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus (59) in the third quarter during an NFL International Series game at Wembley Stadium. The Texans defeated the Jaguars 26-3. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports/File Photo

(Reuters) – The National Football League (NFL), the only major American sporting league so far largely unaffected by the coronavirus outbreak, says it is on course to begin its season on time in September.

“We plan announcing late next week the full regular season schedule that begins with Kickoff on September 10 and culminates with the Super Bowl in Tampa February 7, 2021,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in an email to Reuters.

Each team is expected to play 16 regular season games as per usual, though the league is evaluating contingency plans should this prove untenable, multiple media outlets have reported.

It is yet to be announced whether fans will be allowed to attend games.

While other major sporting leagues, including the National Basketball Association (NBA) and Major League Baseball (MLB), have shut down due to the coronavirus, the NFL has been able to buy time before making any major decisions.

Its season ended in early February, shortly before evidence of a major coronavirus outbreak in the United States became widely known.

Some areas of the U.S. are now starting to emerge from lockdown as rules are relaxed even as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases rises in some states.

Last week’s NFL draft attracted record U.S. television ratings in a country starved of live sporting action.

Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Toby Davis

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