Mikel Arteta has revealed that Arsenal are in consultation with the Premier League about how players should and should not holiday at the end of the season.
There are concerns that players could be exposed to Covid-19 when they head off on holiday this summer. Given there are only four weeks between tomorrow’s FA Cup final and the Community Shield on 29 August and six weeks until the 2020/21 campaign starts on 12 September the knock-on effects could be serious.
With travel guidance changing daily and new self-isolation rules coming into place when returning from certain destinations, the worry is that key men could miss a significant chunk of what will be a very short pre-season.
Ahead of the FA Cup final, Arteta was asked what the club are doing to mitigate those risks. They are looking to provide guidance but he’s keen that it’s not too prescriptive.
“It’s something we’re addressing with the Premier League; what can we do, what can’t we do,” he said.
“We need to get into a common sense situation in order to value also what they players have done as well. As well, to be a little bit flexible.
“We live in the most protected environment that any industry has with the amount of tests and precautions and protocols that we have in place. [Covid-19] it affects everything that’s why we’re having conversations with the Premier League and the government in order to do the right thing.”
The boss also confirmed that the players and staff are due to have three weeks off although that could get complicated if we beat Chelsea tomorrow.
“We are going to have less than three weeks off which I think is the minimum that we can ask after the effort the players and the staff have done in order to continue and get back playing football,” he said. “But we have to accommodate the calendar and the fixtures and it’s the only way we can do it.”
Given the circumstances, it doesn’t sound like we’ll be undertaking any form of pre-season tour and will instead focus our efforts at London Colney. While not an issue right now, playing the Community Shield could be a headache in the making. Whoever wins tomorrow will likely be tempted to field their kids against Liverpool or recall players earlier than expected.
Premier League players are entitled to “five weeks paid holiday to be taken at a time or times determined by the club – subject to the club’s first team and any international commitments” however “a club shall not unreasonably refuse to permit the player to take three of such weeks consecutively”.
Given the pressure the players have been under for the last three months, a few weeks off will certainly do them good in the long run. It’s pretty obvious that if we run them into the ground, barely give them a break, and then ask them to go again that the risk of injury will increase.