Premier League return edges closer as contact training approved
The English Premier League has taken a step closer to restarting after its clubs unanimously voted to resume contact training with immediate effect.
Squads are now able to train as a group and engage in tackling, while minimising any unnecessary close contact and ensuring strict medical protocols remain in place at all training facilities.
The Premier League said that Stage Two of its Return to Training protocol was agreed following consultation with clubs, players, managers, the Professional Footballers’ Association, League Managers Association and the UK government.
England’s top tier has been suspended since mid-March due to the ongoing novel coronavirus (covid-19) pandemic. The Premier League initially hoped to return in April, but later announced an indefinite suspension until it was deemed safe to play matches again.
However, with the number of new Covid-19 cases and related deaths continuing to fall in the UK, the Premier League has in recent weeks accelerated its efforts to restart after the government said its measures could be relaxed to allow sports to resume from 1 June.
Last week, stakeholders approved a return to small-group training, with players having already been permitted to begin training alone at club facilities.
“The Premier League’s priority is the health and wellbeing of all participants,” the Premier League said. “Strict medical protocols are in place to ensure the training ground is the safest environment possible and players and staff will continue to be tested for Covid-19 twice a week.”
Football governing bodies in Italy and Spain also announced their intentions to complete the 2019-20 season, while Germany’s Bundesliga resumed matches behind closed doors earlier this month.
However, some countries have ended their seasons early due to the ongoing pandemic, with the top leagues in France, Belgium and the Netherlands having all concluded. European football’s governing body Uefa had called on all of its associations to complete their 2019-20 seasons despite the crisis.