Premier League chief executive Richard Masters says the league are ‘flexible’ on the division’s restart date as clubs prepare to return to training in small groups today.
Proposals for top-flight sides to return to ‘phase one’ training in groups of five were approved this week as plans for a Premier League return continue, players due to return to training today following the receipt of COVID-19 test results, though the league’s start date remains uncertain despite an intended target of June 12.
Several leading players – including Manchester City‘s Raheem Sterling – have expressed concerns over a lack of preparation time ahead of the proposed date, and Masters admits the authorities are aware of a need to be ‘flexible’, describing footballs return as ‘a step-by-step process’.
“I think once you know when you can start full contact training, and we’ve had a proper discussion about clubs over how much is required to create the fitness levels before they can start playing, you’re then in a position to confirm when the season start date is,” he said.
“We haven’t changed the start date; we have to be flexible about it. What we don’t want to do is continually to move that start date. So, we haven’t changed it but we need to be flexible and acknowledge we’re in a step-by-step process.”
A report last week suggested that June 19 could be a more realistic date for the English season to restart, with ‘phase two’ – full contact training – not yet approved by the government, while Troy Deeney has revealed he has so far refused to return due to health concerns surrounding his son.