Restrictions in place for team training under ‘Project Restart’ English Premier League
Tackling will be banned, pitches disinfected and players restricted to groups of five when the Premier League starts the first phase of team training. Official protocols sent to players and managers on Tuesday and obtained by the BBC reveal that social distancing must be “strictly observed”.
Corner-flags, balls, cones, goalposts and even playing surfaces will be disinfected after each session. League bosses hope training can begin on Monday, restricted to 75 minutes. Ongoing surveillance measures included in further guidance include twice-weekly testing, and a daily pre-training questionnaire and temperature check.
Under a section titled ‘health screening’, players are also told a central register of Covid-19 test results (subject to their consent and Professional Footballers’ Association agreement) will need to be maintained. Recommended “control measures” include “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”.
Under further stringent rules, players are told they cannot share transport with anyone to and from the training ground, and vehicle interiors should be cleaned regularly. Team vehicles and public transport should not be used. Players are being consulted on proposed medical protocols for a return to training by the PFA. They have been given a condensed version of a 40-page document for them to digest.
The BBC understands the PFA has heard from a number of players, especially those who have underlying health conditions like asthma or who are from black and minority ethnic (Bame) backgrounds, that they have real concerns about returning to play. Black men and women are nearly twice as likely to die with coronavirus as white people in England and Wales, according to the Office for National Statistics.
The draft protocols refer to “additional risk assessment and precautions required for players at increased risk (co-morbidity)”. On Wednesday, there will be a meeting between players, the Premier League, the medical staff, and the PFA. Government approval will need to be granted before teams can continue to the next stage of training when contact would be permitted.
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