Its official, the Premier League is set to return to action on 17th June and despite the concerns from everyone with the COVID-19 situation, the league is aiming to finish this season off in a safe environment. We’re going to help summarize everything that the league has done to make sure the return of football in England goes by without a hitch.
Multiple meetings have taken place by clubs representatives over the past few weeks with the intention of finishing the season – providing all safety regulations are met.
Football’s return in England was divided into “phases” to easily integrate teams back into training. The phases involved rigorous COVID-19 testing on all players and staff, and the first phase had players returning to training in small groups with no physical contact allowed between them.
There were reports of 40-page policy documentation that listed what clubs can and can’t do. From the closure of changing rooms to not being allowed to spit during training (yes, they actually said this). Now moving on towards the tests. Coronavirus testing is being conducted twice a week, taking up not more than 5 mins of the playing staff’s time.
The players/staff drive into a pop-up testing station for the examinations which are mandatory for all.
Training itself has been different, with players slowly moving towards small groups of five players and three staff members. The drills that they’ve been practicing include
- Passing in circles
- Shooting practice
- Dribbling past obstacles
- Sprinting with restrictive bands
- Reaction drills (coach shouting orders)
Phase Two approaches now with players now allowed to progress towards physical contact and full group sessions with little restrictions. Testing continued throughout the three weeks the players have returned, with a Premier League statement citing:
17th to 18th of May Tests:
- 748 tests conducted
- 6 tested Positive for COVID-19 from three clubs
19th to 22nd May Tests:
- 996 tests conducted
- 2 tested Positive for COVID-19 from two clubs
25th to 26th May Tests:
- 1008 tests conducted
- 4 tests Positive for COVID-19 from three clubs
The league is also set to increase the number of tests from 50 to 60 in the next round of testing. So far at the time of writing the Premier League COVID testing yielded 12 Positive tests out of 2752 tests. Which accounts for 2.29% being infected.
Clubs wanted a four-week preparation window to get their players up to speed, but it’s understood that a period of three weeks was agreed. The Premier League wants to complete the season by the end of July, reserving August for cup competitions.
92 Games. Six Weeks. Football Overload (yes please)
Premier League at first had discussions over holding the competition over neutral venues with many possible locations discussed such as Wembley and the London Stadium for a lot of the games. But this was rejected by clubs such as Arsenal, Chelsea, and Spurs
Therefore, the Premier League proposed a “hybrid model” whereby many fixtures would be played at home ground but “big clashes” would take place at neutral venues. This is due to the clubs fearing that supporters would end up gathering outside for these matches.
These venues are not likely to be stadiums that are densely-populated residential areas.