May 28 – In the next step towards the season getting back on track, Premier League clubs have unanimously voted to start contact training, including tackling, despite four more positive Covid-19 results at three different clubs, albeit from over 1,000 tests.
The vote by the 20 clubs came after gaining approval from the government for players to work together as a squad as restrictions are eased across England.
Players and staff members at clubs are being checked twice a day and the clubs will hold another conference call on Thursday to discuss plans to resume the 92 fixtures in the second half of June under a timeline dubbed ‘Project Restart’
Whether matches are home and away or on neutral ground is still to be resolved after a number of clubs rejected the latter on sporting grounds.
After working in smaller groups and avoiding contact since individual training resumed last week, players can now enter the next phase though protocols still require social distancing.
The decision was made following consultation with clubs, players, managers, the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA), the League Managers’ Association (LMA) and the government.
“Squads are now able to train as a group and engage in tackling while minimising any unnecessary close contact,” the Premier League said in a statement.
Germany’s Bundesliga resumed on May 16 and Spain has government approval for La Liga to restart after June 8. England’s resumption is scheduled for later in June though critics believe even that is too early given Britain’s record number of Covid-related deaths in Europe.
“Discussions are ongoing as work continues towards resuming the season,” the Premier League said, “when conditions allow … when safe to do so.”
Altogether 1,744 tests on players and staff for coronavirus have produced eight positives after three rounds of testing, with one more round to go. Any players or staff to test positive must self-isolate for a period of seven days.
Several players still have reservations about resuming but failure to do so could reportedly cost the league around £750 million in lost broadcast revenue.
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