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Players Tell Clubs: We’ll Play When It’s Safe

Football chiefs have been warned that players will not be prepared to re-start the season until they feel safe to do so.

The message has been delivered by the Professional Footballers Association as clubs and tournament officials work behind the scenes to draw up plans they believe can end the current shutdown.

It is understood medical representatives from Premier League and Football League clubs gathered for a conference call on Saturday to discuss division-wide protocols on a variety of subjects, including training and testing, to allow football to return amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Regular testing of all players and key staff for Covid-19 will be a crucial plank of any restart plan, and the plan is for the cost of these tests to be met by the Premier League.


All clubs will be working to the same protocols in terms of training sessions, which will be designed to minimise the risk of infection. These protocols, informed by Saturday’s conference call, will be presented to club executives at the league’s next shareholders’ meeting on Friday.

The PFA have also been involved in some of the talks but the union’s deputy chief executive Bobby Barnes said: “We have reiterated that players are not just footballers but partners, fathers, mothers, sons and daughters who share the same health concerns as everyone else during this pandemic.

“We have been assured of the intentions of all that there would be no resumption unless guarantees of safety could be given to the players. The overriding principle for all parties is the health and safety of all participants on and off the field and of course the wider public”

Clubs have also been told that only approved stadiums can be used, operating to a higher certification than in normal circumstances.

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It has been reported that this could mean matches being played at neutral venues, which would lead to questions over the integrity of the competition. Again, the matter will be discussed further on Friday.

European football’s governing body UEFA has asked its member leagues to submit restart plans by May 25, as it begins preparatory work for next season’s continental club competitions.

UEFA wants league seasons to be completed where possible, and issued guidelines last week stressing that qualification places should be settled on sporting merit using “objective, transparent and non-discriminatory” criteria.

The Premier League has remained committed throughout the pandemic to finishing the 2019-20 season if at all possible.

Culture secretary Oliver Dowden said on Monday: “I personally have been in talks with the Premier League with a view to getting football up and running as soon as possible in order to support the whole football community.

“But, of course, any such moves would have to be consistent with public health guidance.”

June 8 has been reported as a potential start date for the Premier League. English and Welsh professional football has been suspended since March 13, with the Premier League and the English Football League keeping a restart date under “constant review”.


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