Premier League clubs approve return to small-group training

On Monday, the Premier League announced that clubs can begin training in small groups on Tuesday afternoon, putting them one step closer to resuming play.

The Premier League is one step closer to restarting the 2019-20 campaign.

On Monday, the league announced that the Premier League Shareholders had “voted unanimously” to return to small-group training starting Tuesday afternoon. Contact training is still not permitted.

The Premier League suspended its season on March 13 due to the coronavirus pandemic. And while EFL League 2 has already announced that they will not return this season and League 1 is likely to do the same soon, the FA is committed to finishing both the Premier League and EFL Championship.

But returning to play will not be easy, as clubs struggle to agree on everything from venues to relegation rule changes to safety protocols. Some players have been vocal, including Raheem Sterling, who said that a mid-June start date is unreasonable.

“You can’t come back in with one-and-a-half or two weeks (of training),” Sterling said. “You’d need a full four to five weeks, especially if you’re going to back into competition.”

Watford Captain Troy Deeney has also criticized the plan to restart the league, saying that players have simple questions left unanswered. “There’s a bigger question to be had here morally as well. We see a lot about care workers and key workers not getting tested and people dying in nursing homes, and things of that nature. Yet we’re expected to have just short of 3,500 tests per month as football players and PPE for staff.”

Deeney contrasts the Premier League with the German Bundesliga, which restarted play this weekend. He noted that as a country, Germany was able to flatten the curb through strategy, discipline, and testing, while the UK has not.

“There’s still an incredible number of people losing their lives through this,” Deeney said. “The death toll in the UK is anything between 33,000 and 38,000. That’s filling our stadium and then filling it half again. It’s a sobering thought.”

Resuming small-group training is another step towards restarting the league. But there is still a lot of work to do before we’ll see football in England.

Next: A guide to the Bundesliga’s return – Teams, players and storylines to watch
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