After a week of non-contact training without incident, Premier League clubs today voted unanimously to move to Stage Two of Project Restart and resume contact training ahead of a hoped-for mid-June return to action behind closed doors.
Beginning today, training groups won’t be capped at five players and tackling will be allowed as teams look to regain fitness after two months in isolation due to coronavirus—though minimising contact as much as possible remains a priority.
“Premier League Shareholders today voted unanimously to resume contact training,” read the league’s statement on the vote. “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.”
Questions remain concerning the safety and wisdom of pushing for a return at a time when England are trailing Germany, whose Bundesliga has been back for two weeks, as well as Spain and Italy who are also targeting June returns.
However, it appears the overwhelming majority of players are eager to return, and if England as a whole is moving towards ending the lockdown it is likely training grounds and football pitches will be amongst the safest reopened workplaces.
“Stage Two of the Return to Training protocol has been agreed following consultation with clubs, players, and managers,” added the league. “Discussions are ongoing as work continues towards resuming the season when conditions allow.”