Premier League Restart date set to be push back


A resumption date for the Premier League is set to be pushed back a week.

A resumption date for the Premier League is set to be pushed back a week.CREDIT:GETTY IMAGES

The restart of the Premier League season is expected to be pushed back by at least seven days from June 12 to June 19, after players and managers expressed their concerns that major questions needed to be answered over the risks of a return to full-contact training and games resuming.

During meetings on Wednesday, both groups agreed to resume socially distanced sessions next week, with the 20 managers presented with a safety protocol for a return to training before player representatives, in most cases captains, met with the Premier League in the afternoon.

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The protocol covered just "phase one" of the return, which restricts players and coaches to small groups and will be approved at Monday's Premier League meeting for a resumption on Tuesday.

There was a consensus among managers and players that they want to restart and are largely comfortable with phase one: groups of five players working with three coaches and all socially distanced. It is understood only one manager questioned outright a return to training and by the end of the meeting he was satisfied that phase one would be safe for players and coaches.

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The players' conference reached a broad consensus that the majority wanted to return to playing. They recognised that the risk from COVID-19 for their age profile was very low and that soccer could provide a very safe environment. There were some who urged greater caution.

But there remains widespread unease over what happens after that and whether managers and their squads are being given enough preparation time ahead of the proposed June 12 restart. The Premier League is listening to those concerns and is prepared to push back the resumption by at least a week.

A number of managers have publicly stated that their squads will require three to four weeks of full training before players can be expected to restart the season without the risk of serious and widespread injuries.

Phase one cannot start until next Tuesday, which means contact training, phase two of the return which has still not been given government approval, cannot start before May 25, less than three weeks before the June 12 date the Premier League had been working towards, but now accepts probably needs to be delayed.

The Premier League's medical officer, Mark Gillett, and Professor James Calder, a consultant orthopaedic surgeon and independent chair of the Chief Medical Officer's consultancy group, ran through the safety protocols for next week's phase one return to training. Phase two protocols are due to be presented in the next seven days, but the lack of information over what will happen after the first week back in restricted-group training has left managers and players concerned over safety.

AdvertisemeEmahe directive to turn away when getting up from a tackle, as first reported by The Telegraph, is rated as unworkable both in training situations and particularly in games, with players wanting assurances that they can safely tackle face to face.

There are also concerns that attempting to limit contact in training could result in injuries if and when games resume, because players will not be prepared properly for the physical demands of a match with relegation and European qualification at stake.

While managers and players are preparing to return to restricted group training next week, many believe there are significant hurdles before squads can start to prepare for a restart, with the level of treatment players will be able to receive after the first week another question yet to be answered.

While the phase one protocols should be approved at next Monday's Premier League meeting, there are fears that a vote on the restart will not be able to take place with so much still to sort out.

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UEFA has confirmed that the League could be granted an extension to the May 25 deadline to agree on a restart date and format for completing games.

A statement from UEFA said: "UEFA would like as much as possible to receive such information by May 25, but we understand that detailed plans might not be fully available by then due to a variety of external constraints.

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