Premier League clubs agree to allow small group training as first step of restart

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Premier League training could resume as soon as Tuesday afternoon after clubs unanimously agreed to certain medical protocols to keep players safe during the COVID-19 pandemic that forced sports to halt two months ago.

The English Premier League got approval early last week to resume its season when the United Kingdom’s government said it would allow games in empty stadiums starting June 1.

Clubs agree on medical protocols to resume

The clubs voted at the league shareholders meeting after weeks of preparation, per the Guardian. The guidelines allow for socially distant training, beginning with players showing up already in practice gear and parking cars at least three spaces apart, per the Guardian.

The group-based training can begin Tuesday as long as the first round of COVID-19 testing comes back negative. The league said in a statement the rules were agreed upon by players, managers, club doctors, independent experts and the government.

Newcastle referenced its plans, saying players and staff will arrive at pre-arranged, staggered times no more than 10 at a time. Then they’ll be split five apiece at two different areas of the pitch for practice. There will be no access to the main building and no milling about by players. All equipment will be regularly disinfected and players must wear a snood or face mask at all times.

The vote is the first step in the league’s return, with the upcoming steps proving more difficult to navigate. More protocols will need to take into account contact training and the contact that will come in matches. Players will still need to be convinced it’s safe, and many have spoken out about the league’s push to return.

Premier League players skeptical about return

Premier League teams can hold small-group training this week. (Photo by Wolverhampton Wanderers FC/WWFC via Getty Images)
Premier League teams can hold small-group training this week. (Photo by Wolverhampton Wanderers FC/WWFC via Getty Images)

Tottenham Hotspur defender Danny Rose blasted the Premier League and UK government after the announcement last week, saying he doesn’t “give a f--- about the nation’s morale” and cares more about safety. Manchester City star Raheem Sterling had similar views on it.

Watford captain Troy Deeney said on ITV’s “Good Morning Britain,” via the Guardian, that most players are concerned about playing games during the crisis even though they’re “desperate” to play again.

“It’s not just players at the bottom who are trying to stay in the league, it’s concerns right across the board. I have had a lot of texts from players who are worried about coming out and speaking. I would say 98% are very much aware that phase one is very good. I would say 65-70% of people are concerned with phase two. I’d say even higher after that.”

Germany’s Bundesliga continued its season this weekend behind closed doors. The league was on hiatus for 67 days.

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