Premier League meeting focuses on medical challenges of return to play

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After a meeting with a representative from all 20 clubs, the Premier League announced it remains cohesive in its desire to finish the current campaign, but confirmed that no clubs brought any particular deadlines up for debate.

Despite a report midweek that as many as nine Premier League clubs would unite during the meeting to present a desire to finish the season by June 30 – even if that meant curtailing the remaining fixture list – multiple British media outlets reported Friday morning that no deadline had been discussed.

“Today’s shareholders’ meeting provided an opportunity to discuss possible scheduling models,” said a Premier League spokesperson after the meeting. “It remains our objective to complete the 2019/20 season but at this stage all dates are tentative while the impact of COVID-19 develops. In response to the pandemic, the Premier League, our clubs and players have provided vital support for communities and the NHS and will continue to do so after matches recommence.”

It was widely reported after the videoconference that while the primary topic of conversation was the presentation of various models for finishing the season, the fluid nature of the health crisis resulted in the discussion of broader possibilities and no actual dates for a response.

“In common with other businesses and industries, the Premier League and our clubs are working through complex planning scenarios,” the spokesperson said. “We are actively engaging with stakeholders, including broadcast partners, and our aim is to ensure we are in a position to resume playing when it is safe to do so and with the full support of the Government. The health and wellbeing of players, coaches, managers, club staff and supporters are our priority and the League will only restart when medical guidance allows.”

Multiple reports also claimed that pay structures and the scheduling of the transfer window were also not topics of discussion during the call. Instead, the call focused mainly on the medical challenges of a return to play, including a discussion on the need for improved mass testing as a requirement to a league resumption.

According to a report by The Guardian, the Premier League will be seeking specific approval from the government to utilize a certain number of tests required to safely restart the campaign. The Bundesliga’s proposed plan for a return estimated that 240 essential personnel would be required to hold each individual match, including players, officials, coaching staff, medical personnel, television crew, and more. The UK government currently holds a divulged capacity of 34,000 tests across the entire country per day, with The Guardian reporting that 18,665 were utilized on Thursday. The Guardian reports that “some clubs are confident” that testing numbers will improve in time for a June restart.

The Premier League season has been on hold since March 13 due to the coronavirus pandemic in accordance with the government lockdown in England.