Premier League clubs voted unanimously to return to full contact training as a key step on the road to restarting the 2019-20 season arrived.
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The league released a statement confirming that clubs are now allowed to return to contact training and said they are on track to restart the season when it is safe to do so.
It is hoped the Premier League could return as early as June 12 but it has been reported that date could be pushed back by at least one week with managers wanting more time to work on the fitness of their players after over two months off.
The Premier League season was suspended on March 13 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
This vote is a big, big step in the final 92 games of the season actually being completed as players and managers now appear comfortable with the strict safety protocols in place after a week back training in small groups at training grounds. Plus, if they are happy to resume contact training then they are essentially happy to resume games, as long as strict health and safety protocols remain in place.
Here is the statement from the Premier League in full:
Premier League Shareholders today voted unanimously to resume contact training, marking another step towards restarting the Premier League season, when safe to do so.
Squads are now able to train as a group and engage in tackling while minimising any unnecessary close contact.
The Premier League’s priority is the health and wellbeing of all participants.
Strict medical protocols are in place to ensure the training ground is the safest environment possible and players and staff will continue to be tested for COVID-19 twice a week.
Stage Two of the Return to Training protocol has been agreed following consultation with clubs, players, managers, the PFA, LMA and the Government.
Discussions are ongoing as work continues towards resuming the season, when conditions allow.
The Premier League confirmed over the weekend that from 1,744 tests on players and staff across the first two rounds of COVID-19 tests, eight positive tests have been recorded with players from both Watford and Bournemouth confirmed to have the virus.
Several Premier League stars and managers have revealed their angst about returning to training but those fears seem to have evaporated, for the most part, as contact training resumes.
Premier League clubs are due to meet on Thursday to discuss a possible restart date and a curtailment plan, just in case unexpected obstacles arise over the next few weeks.
Make no mistake about it, a return to contact training is a huge step forward for the Premier League restarting.