The competition plans for clubs to return to group training on 18 May, after what was seen as a productive and “cordial” videoconference on Monday morning.
New Premier League chief executive Richard Masters spoke to media after the meeting, and revealed some of plans for positive tests.
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He also stated that the competition and clubs are consulting with government as regards the latest science on contact training, so as to “build blocks” towards getting back to full competitive matches.
Masters would not be drawn on a return date for the Premier League itself, saying he couldn’t make a prediction on 12 June due to the necessity for flexibility, but that mid-June remains the target.
The football authorities also plan detailed meetings with players and staff to assure them of safe environments.
The issue of potential positive tests has hung over ‘Project Restart’ due to the problems it would cause, but Masters sounded an optimistic note, as he revealed this had been discussed.
“With regards to our back-to-training protocols, if a player tests positive, providing that player has been been socially distanced as anticipated in these protocols, that player would be isolated for a period but there would be no need for the rest of the group to be, because they’ve been socially distanced.”
The very idea of “social distancing” may seem absurd in a return to group training, but the Premier League has been consulting the latest scientific advice.
“It does depend on what sort of contact because obviously you’re trying to ensure the players keep themselves safe even during that contact training situation and that will have to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis,” Masters said.
“[Plans] have been put together in consultation with a wide range of people including people within inside government and advisors to government. Sport has been working with government generally on the production of the baseline document from which the individual sports have been able to create their own protocols.
“At some point we will send our draft protocols to the government and they will look over them and give them the thumbs up before we can clarify them.”
While Masters said an 18 May return to training is “possible, yes”, it was more complicated to make any predictions on full games.
“I really wouldn’t want to make a prediction now. Clearly we have plans but they’re all flexible. I think before you’ve even decided to go back to training that it isn’t right to start to talk about when we think we’re going to get back to playing.
“There are many steps to be taken, many hurdles to get over before we get to that point. And of course part of the government’s announcement [on Sunday] was about the direction of travel of Covid itself might frustrate those plans.
“So I think it’s too early for us to talk about it, we want to remain in step with government and the authorities. And want to remain in step with the mood of football supporters.
“I think really the talk at the moment should be about the tentative steps we are taking now that the announcements have been made about getting back to training and only once players have been consulted.”
“It’s about the building blocks… we have talked about four weeks of training but haven’t agreed yet as we haven’t agreed to go back to training yet.
“I think I’ve said there was a lot of discussion about players and how important they are and that clubs are determined as part of the consultation process that their concerns and questions are heard. They will be later this week.
“We’re really just talking about return to training protocols. In isolation it’s a big decision. But whenever professional athletes go back to training the opportunity arises for them to train in different ways. But the players have to be consulted properly. The first meetings will take place this week.”
Masters meanwhile ruled out the idea of isolated squad camps for the time being.
“I think it probably has been discussed, but it is not the favoured route at the moment and I guess ultimately, in the judgement of medical professionals, which I am not, they think that the formula they have created is it safe and appropriate.”