The Premier League presented to all 20 top-flight managers today the league’s list of proposed safety protocols and hygienic measures designed to keep players as safe as possible while still getting football back on the menu during these COVID-19 days of our lives.
According to the Times, the presentation was met with a “fairly positive” response, with managers’ biggest concerns at the moment being the most obvious: fitness. (Obviously, most reports are leading with the minor negative rather than the larger positive angle because clicks and drama.)
With the league aiming for a June 12 restart — assuming the UK government approves and moves into the appropriate step of their plan for reopening the economy — even if training begins next week, players would have just four weeks to get back into match shape, and that without playing any actual pre-season matches.
Obviously, that’s hardly ideal, even if players have been trying to keep fit while in lockdown over the past two months. On the other hand, none of this is ideal and sacrifices and concessions have to be made by all sides and all stakeholders. Similar issues are facing all leagues looking to restart, so once again keeping an eye on the Bundesliga, who are set to restart this weekend, will be instructive.
The Premier League’s proposed safety measures are said to include such suggestions as small groups in training, at least initially, no tackling, and no congregation in communal areas — all to minimize close contact as much as reasonably possible. These will be in addition to twice weekly tests for the virus, as well as daily health questionnaires and temperature checks. Special attention will be paid to players with underlying health conditions, such as asthma, and extra screens will be conducted to find any previously undiagnosed heart and lung conditions.
The Premier League will be meeting with players today and tomorrow as well, and they surely will have a few more concerns and objections than just the managers.