The Premier League clubs have unanimously voted to resume contact training as COVID-19 cases increase by four from three different clubs.
The Premier League marked its fourth round of testing a total of 1,008 players and staff. Out of the total, four were confirmed positive of the virus.
So far, 12 people have tested positive after 2,752 tests were carried out across the league. The 12 are in isolation for seven days.
Despite the positive increase, phase two of “Project Restart” will see players “train as a group and engage in tackling while minimizing unnecessary close contact”.
The decision to return to contact training was agreed following consultation with clubs, players, managers, PFA, the League Managers’ Association, and the government.
Plans for the third phase of Project Restart include a step towards normal training and build-up to competitive games.
Speaking on Friday, Premier League chief executive Richard Masters commented the league was “as confident as we can be” about resuming the season in June with 92 fixtures still to play.
Clubs will discuss further issues on Thursday including the use of neutral stadiums, how to decide the season in the event of curtailment, and voting on rebates to broadcasters.
The staff and players will continue to be tested twice a week for the virus with the capacity increased from 50 to 60 tests available per club for the fourth round of testing.
An important step in Project Restart Plan
The Project Restart Plan is of importance in the resumption of the season timeline. However, the plan brings along a heightened risk of transmission.
The close-contact stage will enable clubs to do 11 v11 close-contact training. Clearly, they will need to do that to get to a point where they are ready to play competitive matches again.
Whatsoever, it is yet to be explained who else would need to isolate if a player tests positive and had been training with several of their team-mates. It is likely to come down to the type of contact and length of contact with that person, using GPS trackers to determine this.
Social distancing will still need to be maintained off the field. Players and staff will actively have to opt-in and agree to the strict agreements and the additional risks that come with unleashing the next phase.