KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: The Premier League has taken a step closer to enacting Project Restart after the 20 clubs unanimously for a resumption of contact training. So far players have trained in five-man groups with social distancing while wholesale coronavirus testing was undertaken.
Only a handful of players and staff tested positive which led to the move forward towards a resumption on June 12 or 19. Negotiations also included representatives of players and managers as well as government health advisers.
If all goes well then a third phase of Project Restart will prepare for a return to normal training and build-up to competitive games. Next the clubs are discussing further details about the practicalities of completing the season.
These will include the possible use of neutral stadiums, how to decide the season – including the title and relegation – if a new halt is necessary and the issue of rebates to broadcasters.
A league statement said: “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.”
On Tuesday Bournemouth goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale became the eighth Premier player or staff member to test positive for the virus. Some 1,744 tests have been undertaken at top-flight clubs since early May.
Several players, including Watford captain Troy Deeney and Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante, have not taken part in phase one of the return to training protocols because of concerns about coronavirus.