Premier League clubs agreed Monday on the measures that will allow non-contact practice sessions to resume during the coronavirus pandemic.
The protocols for small group training — while maintaining social distancing — beginning Tuesday were approved unanimously in a vote by the clubs during a conference call after the government eased lockdown restrictions in England last week.
Up to five players will be allowed to work together on a pitch, according to details released by Newcastle. The northeast club will operate a rotation that will ensure only 10 players maximum are at the training ground at any one time.
“A player has a quarter of a pitch to work within, so social distancing is not a problem,” Newcastle manager Steve Bruce said. “We’ll train with eight to ten at a time on two separate pitches. Everything is in place in the safety aspect. I’ve got no issues and I can tell the supporters the players and the staff are as safe as we possibly can be.
“We all understand that this virus isn’t going to go away just like that – it’s going to hang around a bit, but I think with the protocols in place we’ll do everything we possibly can to get up and running again.”
Contact training and matches are yet to be allowed by the government, which is waiting to see there is no new spike in COVID-19 infections before further relaxing the distancing measures.
The Premier League said it is the “first step towards restarting the Premier League, when safe to do so.” The season was suspended in March with Liverpool leading by 25 points with nine games remaining.
Coronavirus testing is due to take place twice weekly at clubs on up to 40 players, coaches and support staff.
The league will continue to consult across the game with players, coaches and clubs on the protocols that could allow full-contact training.
“Strict medical protocols of the highest standard will ensure everyone returns to training in the safest environment possible,” the Premier League said in a statement. “The health and wellbeing of all participants is the Premier League’s priority, and the safe return to training is a step-by-step process.”
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