18 May 2020

PL Clubs Warned Measures Could Last A Year  (Sky Sports)

Etihad StadiumThe Premier League has been warned current coronavirus restrictions are likely to be in place long-term, with Public Health England advising them the public health situation is unlikely to change in the next 6-12 months.

England's top flight was paused on March 9 due to the coronavirus pandemic and is making plans for a comeback in mid-June but a vast number of measures, including matches being played behind closed doors, will need to be adopted in order to minimise the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

While it is clear that fans will not be able to attend Premier League games for the remainder of the season, clubs have already started preparing for the possibility of playing the whole of next season behind closed doors.

In a conference call with media on Monday, the Premier League's medical advisor Dr Mark Gillett said football may have to operate anti-coronavirus measures for a minimum of six months to a year in accordance with the public health situation.

"I've been lucky enough to sit on the DCMS group with a very high level of medical input from Public Health England and the Chief Medical Officers department," he said.

"They've made it very clear that the social situation, the public health situation is not going to change over the next six to 12 months.

"Regardless of the timing of this type of conversation we're going to be looking to make the same kind of cultural changes at training grounds and in footballers' behaviours whether we have this conversation now or at any point this year. It is important that people understand that."

On Monday, Premier League clubs agreed unanimously to return to training from Tuesday this week as they remain keen to resume the season when deemed safe to do so.

The Premier League has been carrying out COVID-19 swab tests across every club and expect to have their first batch of results by 2pm on Tuesday, which CEO Richard Masters marking it as the first meaningful stepping stone towards a season resumption.

"When those results are in it will give us the confidence to release the clubs to start training immediately," he said.

"Once you know when you can start full contact training, and we've had a proper discussion about clubs over how much is required to create the fitness levels before they can start playing, you're then in a position to confirm when the season start date is."

"We cannot de-risk the entire thing. But I think what we have created is an extremely safe environment. Hopefully we have reassured all players and managers on that basis."

FMPA denounce lack of communication

The Football Medicine and Performance Association (FMPA) has said that almost half of its members working in the Premier League do not feel they fully understand their "role, responsibilities and potential liability" in relation to the return to training.

The FMPA surveyed its 400 members working at clubs in the top four tiers of English football - including doctors, physiotherapists and sports therapists - with 150 responding by close of play on Monday.

An FMPA statement said that "almost 50 per cent" of respondents within the Premier League raised concerns, with that number rising to 68 per cent in the Football League.

"It is clear that members do not feel they have been effectively communicated with," FMPA chief executive Eamonn Salmon said.

However, the Premier League's director of football Richard Garlick said the league has been in touch with club doctors around their liability and insurance and insists they are "content" with the protocol.

"We have spoken to the insurers both in relation to the liability insurers for the clubs but also indemnity insurance for the doctors," Garlick said. "It's in our protocols. They are content with them.

"I think we have done everything we can to get them in a place where they feel comfortable, and obviously we just need to ensure we continue to follow government guidance as and when it comes out with these next steps of protocols - step two and step three."

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