The issue of coronavirus testing is emerging as one of the “key problems” that could prevent football returning, with The Independent understanding that more and more club figures are getting uneasy about the idea of their squads undergoing full test programmes while the country goes short.
There is a newfound confidence that the Premier League will come back for 13 June, but that has naturally been complicated with plans now expected to become more concrete.
An essential part of the plan is for club squads and staff to be sequestered to isolated camps, to prevent them contracting the virus. This is where the issue of testing becomes most problematic.
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Implementing such plans would require full and regular testing of all staff and personnel at games, which would mean at least 200 per Premier League game, and around 2,000 for a full round of matches.
Right now, the UK government is only managing up to 29,000 tests a day, two days short of the 1 May date for which Health secretary Matt Hancock promised 100,000 a day. An increasing number of Premier League club officials are uneasy about the perception that would come from that, while some have more fundamental concerns about the base problem of private sector professionals conducting so many tests for entertainment, at a time when public services – and especially the health services – go short.
“How can they take tests away from the general public and key workers?” one figure involved in football privately asked.
Much of that naturally comes down to finances, and the fact the Premier League clubs – just like the PGA in golf – can simply afford more, but one source complained that this is “just throwing money at a problem that isn’t about money”.
On the other side, though, some are appealing for calm and reminding that the situation as regards testing could look very different by the time football resumes. They believe the Premier League approach remains easily workable, and feasible, and that it will be palatable to the pubic in a few weeks time.
A problem that has recurred throughout this postponement for football is that so may want solutions for “right now”, and the current situation, when it is still too early to make real decisions. As such, any planning is based on provisional circumstances down the line.
It is set to be another issue discussed at Friday’s next Premier League meeting.