There are good reasons to wonder if the return of football in England and elsewhere in Europe is a good idea. Yet with much of the rest of society being pushed towards a return to something vaguely resembling normal, it makes sense that football, in some form, is also coming back.
Much of the motivation, as in the rest of society, is blatantly financial. But at least for public consumption, the league is trying to put a more positive spin on things—and stressing that, perhaps more than anywhere else, proper procedures will be followed in order to minimise any risks.
“Gradually, we aim to have an inspector at every training ground,” Premier League director of football Richard Garlick told The Times when he was asked about plans to monitor team training to ensure guidelines are adhered to as the players end their self-isolation and begin to return.
At the start there won’t be a league monitor for every team. Instead there will be unannounced spot checks, video reviews, and the monitoring of GPS data to ensure players are maintaining social distancing, kept in small groups, and that sessions don’t run longer than 75 minutes.
Said Garlick of the league’s planned training oversight ahead of a targeted mid-June return: “That will enable us to give everyone confidence that the protocols are being complied with and give the public confidence that we are trying to create a very safe working environment.”
If all goes well—both in team training in England and more broadly—the hope is that restrictions on training can be dialled down over the next week or two, allowing players to train more intensely to be prepared to resume play behind closed doors in a month.