Top-level athletes, including footballers, are allowed to return to training with immediate effect under new guidelines released by the government.
The Guardian relays that they will have to undergo a 1:1 check-in with a medical expert during which their health will be checked and the risks of Covid-19 set-out.
On Monday, Premier League chief executive Richard Masters hinted that all 20 clubs could resume group training, albeit with a number of restrictions in place, by Monday.
According to The Times, it’s now more likely to be Tuesday with finalised training protocols set to be signed off at Monday’s Premier League shareholders meeting.
In theory, that would give clubs just under a month to get their players match fit for a return to action on 13 June. Reports suggest that the timeline is causing concern for some coaches, who don’t believe that’s realistic after a two-month lay-off.
Arsenal are expected to follow Wolves’ lead by setting-up a drive-through testing centre at London Colney for the first team squad and backroom staff in the coming days.
Nasal and throat swabs will then be sent for analysis at The Doctors Laboratory, a sister company of the one undertaking Covid-19 tests for the Bundesliga, with results returned inside 24 hours.
According to the BBC who’ve had eyes on the first draft of the training protocols sent to players and managers this week, the first phase of training will see 75-minute sessions restricted to groups of five.
Tackling will be banned for the time being (as it usually is in the early stages of pre-season) and everything from corner flags and balls to pitches and cones (more work for Ryo) will need to be disinfected.
Ongoing surveillance will include twice-weekly testing and daily temperature checks. Players won’t be allowed to travel to the training ground together and congregation in communal areas including gyms and changing rooms will not be allowed.
It’s worth pointing out that players are under no pressure to return to training and those with reservations over the safety of doing so will not be punished if they opt-out. That said, the Premier League believes the majority of players are keen to return to action and will sign the necessary disclaimer forms. Player representatives from each club were due to meet this afternoon but no statement from the PFA has yet been made.
Speaking about the new guidelines, the secretary of state for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Oliver Dowden, said: “I know our sports stars are keen to get back to training and this guidance will enable them to do so in a safe way. Our top priority is protecting the health of athletes, coaches and support staff.
“Enabling athletes to get match fit is an important milestone towards restarting competitive sport behind closed doors – but we have not given a green light yet. We are clear that this can only happen on the advice of medical experts and when it is safe to do so.”
In a further sign, that momentum is gathering, ESPN report that the Championship wants to return a week before the Premier League.
While the League One and League Two campaigns are likely to end prematurely, albeit with promotion play-offs taking place, it sounds as though England’s second-tier sides, are close to an agreement on how and when to resume.
There’s been no talk about the use of neutral grounds in the Championship, so we can assume if they get a green light to continue with home and away games, the same will happen in the Premier League.
The game is making its comeback around the world. South Korea’s K-League kicked off on Saturday, the Bundesliga returns this coming weekend and Italy’s Serie A is eyeing a mid-June start.
Before you know it, we’ll have too much football…