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Premier League return conditions: What clubs could have to do to prevent coronavirus spread


Competitive games cannot start until June at the earliest but some teams are already back in training

Wednesday, 13th May 2020, 4:18 pm

Updated Wednesday, 13th May 2020, 4:19 pm
Measures will be imposed on players and coaches in training (Photo: Getty)

Finding out what the Premier League’s ‘new normal’ during the coronavirus pandemic is going to look like is possibly even more intriguing than the matches themselves.

All 20 top-flight clubs have reportedly been sent a 40-page document outlining training protocols in advance of a potential return to the pitch, which the Government have said cannot happen until 1 June at the earliest.

And while the rest of us are still subject to social distancing measures – or possibly not as your average London bus in the morning resembles a Premier League six-yard box at a corner, it seems – further reports said players have been told to avoid face-to-face contact. It makes you wonder if Joey Barton’s nod to Vincent Kompany when Manchester City won the title in 2012 would have been banned, while Zinedine Zidane’s 2006 World Cup final butt to Marco Materazzi’s chest would surely have put both players into quarantine.

i’s fantasy football tips newsletter: get ahead

i’s fantasy football tips newsletter: get ahead

Here is what Premier League players could expect when, and if, they return to training and the pitch any time soon.

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Timing and equipment

According to the BBC, the 40-page document said that balls, corner flags, goals, cones and pitches will be disinfected after each session, which are not expected to last more than 75 minutes.

Testing

Players are set to be tested twice a week, with daily temperature checks. There are concerns from players with underlying health conditions and those from black and minority ethnic backgrounds, with black men and women nearly twice as likely to die from Covid-19 as white people, according to figures from the Office of National Statistics.

Players will be tested regularly to minimise spread of Covid-19 (Photo: Getty)

Personal responsibility

Players have been told to have “meticulous personal hygiene and use of PPE [personal protective equipment], no congregation in communal areas, including but not limited to medical rooms and gym areas”.

Transport

Not that this would happen much anyway, but players have also been told they cannot use public transport, so they can’t even rehearse escaping Virgil van Dijk’s clutches at a set-piece on the bus. They cannot share their cars, which should also be cleaned regularly.

Treatment

Medical staff must wear personal protective equipment when treating players, with data kept on record. If any player tests positive, even without symptoms, they will have to self-isolate for seven days.

On the pitch

All clear so far? Good, because here is where it could get really tricky. A report in The Daily Telegraph claims that contact between players is expected to be mitigated amid concerns over the possibility of spreading the virus on the pitch. This may include turning the face away when getting up from a challenge and avoiding face-to-face contact. How that will wash out amid concerns over the integrity of the game is anyone’s guess.

The other main sticking point is whether enough players will agree to all this. The Telegraph also reported that players are being asked to sign a code of practice form regarding the Project Restart protocols. Although sources said it is not a liability waiver, tensions are rising, with Gary Neville saying on Sky Sports a couple of weeks ago that players would “have to sign a disclaimer like a jet-ski. If you hurt yourself then you’re liable not the people who have let you use the jet-ski.”



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