As of this morning, clubs unanimously agreed by vote to return to training by agreeing to a set of medical guidelines revolving around keeping players safe. It will mean the kickoff of phase one of Project Restart including the details handed down to them last week. The Guardian points out that we could see clubs holding small group trainings by Tuesday afternoon assuming there are no players testing positive in an initial screening.
These protocols are enough to get teams back up and running, but further work will need to be done quickly to move onto full contact training and eventually matches. These agreements will need to be made relatively quickly and given there was already some disagreement leading up to this vote from medical staff, it will be one that could difficult.
With just under 245,000 cases of Coronavirus in the United Kingdom, just under 35,000 deaths, since the onset of tracking, and thousands more being added each day – the UK sits in a very different place than Germany who had their opening games this weekend. It is because of this difference, that players themselves will need to be convinced of the safety in phase two, which may be a potential sticking point.
The Guardian article also quotes Troy Deeney saying, “It’s not just players at the bottom who are trying to stay in the league, it’s concerns right across the board. I have had a lot of texts from players who are worried about coming out and speaking. I would say 98% are very much aware that phase one is very good. I would say 65-70% of people are concerned with phase two. I’d say even higher after that.”
It’s good to see players, coaches, and clubs aligned on the effectiveness of phase one’s training plans and we cab hope that players have the confidence to voice their fears. Although, that is a worrying notion when you hear quotes like this one. From Sky Sports, an unnamed Premier League Club official said, “I really don’t think they should be paid,” the club official said. “We are not sure what the situation is under their contracts at the moment. If you asked people in the street would you train and play football against people being tested twice a week, would you do it for £60,000 a week, they’d all say yes. It makes me very cross.”
First off, for such a big statement, it may be an even bigger one for this person not to put their name on it. It’s a worrying start to early pressures players will face externally play regardless of the safeties they can be provided and demonstrates the root of this scrutiny will again be the amount they are paid.
It no doubt will fuel a heated debate, but until more information comes out about the promises the league can make for player’s safety, the effectiveness of Germany’s precautions, and plenty of other variables we will leave it there. Hoping all are well.