It's only a small step with no firm end date -- when play will actually resume -- but English Premier League clubs will welcome back players for the first time since mid-March when they begin
non-contact training in groups of up to five players at a time on Tuesday. The move to reopen follows a battery of coronavirus tests carried out on Sunday and Monday with the tests
to be released by the Premier League on Tuesday.
To make sure everyone is following the rules, GPS tracking and surveillance cameras will be checked. Eventually, inspectors will make spot
checks at training centers across England. But before that, everyone needs to know what the rules are.
A survey of 138 Premier League and English Football League doctors and
physiotherapists revealed that more than half didn't "fully understand their roles, responsibilities and potential liabilities" regarding the return to training.
The obvious example for
planning the restart is the Bundesliga, which resumed on Saturday.
“We have to be flexible about it,” Premier League chief executive Richard Masters
said in a media
conference call on Monday. “The Germans are a couple of steps ahead of us obviously, and we can learn from them and watch them and take confidence from their success."
League issued a statement that the safe return to training is a step-by-step process: "Full consultation will now continue with players, managers, clubs, the PFA [Professional Footballers'
Association] and LMA [League Managers' Association] as protocols for full-contact training are developed."
The date most often mentioned to resume play is June 12, but the Premier League
doesn't even have approval from the British government on the protocols for contact training. If the German example tells Premier League officials anything, it's that the June 12 date -- less than
four weeks away -- might be optimistic.
"It wasn't a firm commitment," Masters said of the June 12 date, "and what we don't want to do is continue to move it around. We know there's a
discussion to be had. It really depends on when we can start full contact training and we have a process to go through before we can get to that stage. Of course, we've got to be flexible."
The other requirement will be patience.
"They’ve made it very clear that the social situation, the public health situation is not going to change over the next six to 12 months,"
Premier League medical adviser Mark Gillett
said. “We’re going to be looking to make the same kind of cultural changes at training grounds and in footballers’ behaviors
whether we have this conversation now or at any point this year. It is important that people understand that.”