Gareth Bale’s return to football in La Liga has been branded a complete “a non-starter” by Barcelona coach Quique Setien.
The Barca chief is pessimistic that the Spanish top flight season will be able to be completed and has dismissed the league’s conditions for the return of football due to the continued threat of coronavirus.
Wales and Real Madrid star Bale has been sidelined with other players in Spain since La Liga was put on hold on March 10 due to the pandemic, although president Javier Tebas has said matches could start up again on either May 29, June 7 or June 28, most likely without fans.
Tebas has estimated Spanish clubs would lose close to £1 billion if the season is not completed.
A draft of the league’s protocol for returning to training and matches once given the green light by health authorities, recommends that clubs hold training camps at their training grounds or hotels for a two-week period before matches can start again.
Only first team players, coaching staff and a small number of other staff would be allowed to access the facility, with everyone at the training camp being subjected to two COVID-19 tests before accessing the site.
Testing would continue to take place during the camps, added the protocol.
But Setien, whose Barca side held a two-point lead over Real Madrid at the top of the table when the campaign was indefinitely postponed, does not think it is so simple.
“Everyone wants to be ready for when the season starts again but that cannot happen until the health authorities can guarantee that there will be no problems,” Setien told Catalan radio station RAC1 on Thursday.
“I have read the protocol and the reality is I don’t know if it can be carried out as it is written, I think it’s unworkable, I think it’s very difficult logistically.”
Barca midfielder Sergio Busquets also expressed doubts about the feasability of clubs holding training camps.
“We can start training again little by little but it will be difficult once everyone comes together and the competition starts again and teams start travelling,” he told Spanish radio stations Onda Cero and Cadena Cope.
— Gareth Bale (@GarethBale11) April 16, 2020
“I have heard that La Liga wants teams to concentrate for a few months, I think that’s too much and it cannot be done. There will be too many problems.”
More than 19,000 people have died from coronavirus in Spain although this week the government loosened the terms of a strict lockdown to allow some businesses back to work.
Bale currently has two years left on his contract at Madrid but had made just 18 appearances across all competitions before the shutdown as his relationship with Zinedine Zidane had soured since the return of the French coach last season.