Premier League’s Project Restart faces important vote
The Premier League’s Project Restart’s movement from theory to practice face an important hurdle when clubs hold an emergency meeting to vote on a return to group training.
The vote will be held across telephone conference on Monday 18 May and comes after Germany’s Bundesliga returned to play over the weekend.
Premier League’s Project Restart
If 14 of the 20 Premier League clubs agree safety protocols are sufficient, then players are likely to return to a limited first phase of group training on Tuesday 19 May.
The Premier League should have concluded on 17 May but competition was suspended in March with 92 fixtures remaining.
Prime Minister Borish Johnson and his government opened the door for the return of professional sport, but there are plenty of hurdles to be cleared before the Premier League can resume behind closed doors.
Clubs still need to agree on the details of conditions for players to return to training. Strict rules are expected to be put in place and while the goal will be to put on a finish to the season that is as close to normal as possible initial training will be as foreign to the players as the lockdown.
Proposed safety measures include medical tents where temperature checks will be conducted as well as strict hygiene criteria. There will be no canteens and no showers allowed at training facilities and a maximum of five players will be allowed per pitch with tackling forbidden.
It is understood that players will need to submit to being tested for the virus twice a week and provide written they have received and understood the club’s policy.
Players not sold on idea
Most of the Premier League clubs have opposed the idea of finishing the season at neutral venues, in a bubble, but player resistance could still be a huge obstacle for the Premier League’s Project Restart.
“Honestly, from what I can see, a lot of players – the majority, I’d say – are uncomfortable with the idea of returning right now,” Chelsea player Willian said this week.
“We’re really keen to return, we really miss playing and doing what we love. But it needs to be safe for us to do so.”
In a column for Sunday Times UK, Wayne Rooney questioned whether rushing football back was in anyone’s best interests.
“I’m desperate to train and play again but it feels like football in England is being pushed to return too soon,” wrote the Derby County player and assistant manager.