Clubs To Resume Contact Training

The Premier League is expected to resume on January 12

The Premier League made a significant stride towards restarting matches yesterday after all 20 clubs unanimously agreed to resume contact training.

A brief shareholders meeting concluded with a vote on moving to ‘Phase Two’ of preparations following discussions on Tuesday between players, managers and league representatives designed to assuage concerns around social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Several players, including Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante and Watford striker Troy Deeney have opted to pursue individual programmes at home, partly due to statistics indicating people from a BAME background are more likely to die from COVID-19.

However, a Premier League statement read, “Premier League shareholders today voted unanimously to resume contact training ? marking another step towards restarting the Premier League season, when safe to do so.

“Squads are now able to train as a group and engage in tackling while minimising any unnecessary close contact.

“The Premier League’s priority is the health and wellbeing of all participants. 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.

“Stage Two of the ‘Return To Training’ protocol has been agreed following consultation with clubs, players, managers, the PFA (Professional Footballers’ Association), the LMA (League Managers’ Association) and the Government. Discussions are ongoing as work continues towards resuming the season when conditions allow.”

Those conversations will continue on Thursday when the Premier League meets again to discuss wide-ranging issues including a restart date, television scheduling and contingency plans if the season has to be curtailed.

Sources told ESPN on Monday the original June 12 date is now viewed by many to be too soon to build up players’ fitness to a level which minimising the risk of injury. A date later in the month ? possibly June 19 or June 26 if the commitment to resuming on a Friday night remains ? is most likely.