Premier League hopes to alleviate player safety concerns during crucial conference call | Soccer


The Premier League will try to show that players will be safer on club training grounds than they would be at home when they host a pivotal conference call on Wednesday afternoon.

The league has sent its return-to-training protocols through the Professional Football Association to each club captain or PFA representative, allowing them to be digested and discussed between teams. From now on, the league will invite the captains or representatives to express their concerns during a meeting deemed crucial for the objective of relaunching the season in mid-June.

At a separate meeting on Wednesday morning, the league will hold talks with the director of each club, with League Managers Association chief executive Richard Bevan also in attendance. Medical experts will be on each call.

Players obviously have to be on board with the restart and it is recognized that some of them are afraid of putting themselves and their families at risk. Others just want to play and play. It was almost impossible to discern the percentage of splits, although the clutch of top players who spoke out against the restart got a lot of attention. They include Danny Rose of Newcastle and Sergio Agüero of Manchester City.

In a club, it is understood that there is work to make the players comfortable, with the opinions expressed by Rose and Agüero which resonate with those of the majority of the team. There is a certain degree of nervousness, to say the least. However, another club held a call with their manager and players last week and no one has spoken out against the restart.

Wolves midfielder Morgan Gibbs-White faces club discipline

Wolves midfielder Morgan Gibbs-White faces disciplinary action from his club. Photography: Dave Howarth / PA

The league is confident that its plans to create a safe bubble on the training grounds will allay players’ concerns; that they will realize that there is a greater chance of getting a coronavirus, for example, from a family member who has returned from the supermarket than from anyone in their work environment.

At the same time, the league wishes to emphasize that players also have a responsibility if the season is to be ended. In short, they must not break government directives like Wolves midfielder Morgan Gibbs-White did last week when he attended a party in London. He faces disciplinary action.

What the league wants is to establish better lines of communication than those observed during the salary deferral arguments, which has led to a mentality between us and the players. However, some players are annoyed that it took so long to receive the protocol information; for some, the delay increased doubts.

Players will be tested twice a week and the first phase of return training will involve physical distancing measures largely in line with what a member of the public could do in a park. The difference is that a member of the public can only meet one person outside their home.

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Players will conduct their training in their kit, park three separate spaces, do their work and then return home without showering. They will be encouraged to wear a snood or face mask at all times – despite criticism of the practicality of this. Some players have already returned for staggered solo training. The hope is that small group work can start next Monday.

The wolves, whose players returned to their training ground at Compton Park on Monday, began their testing procedures the same day, with more than 10 backroom staff swabbed for the virus by designated doctors by the Premier League.

The PFA will support any player who does not wish to play. Ole Gunnar Solskjær and Chris Wilder, leaders of Manchester United and Sheffield United respectively, said they would not force anyone to return to action.


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