Project Restart could be set to be delayed following ‘concerns’ expressed by players and managers over the safety of resuming the Premier League season.
Football has been suspended in England since mid-March amid the coronavirus pandemic, though there has so far remained a commitment to concluding the current season once it is advised that it is safe to do so.
In what is a week filled with meetings, the Premier League have discussed the latest proposals with club captains and managers – alongside medical professionals and representatives from the Professional Footballer’s Association and League Managers Association – during a video conference call on Wednesday ahead of a potential return to action next month.
However, the Telegraph report that a number of ‘concerns’ were expressed during the meeting, with the Premier League’s planned restart of June 12 now ‘likely to be pushed back’ by seven days until June 19.
It is claimed that while there was a general consensus that ‘phase one’ of returning to training was safe – with players working in groups of five alongside three coaches and maintaining social distance – there was ‘widespread unease’ as to whether managers and their squads are would have enough preparation time to recover their match fitness ahead of the originally planned restart date.
A number of managers reportedly stated their squads will need ‘three or four weeks’ of preparation before players can return to action ‘without the threat of serious and widespread injuries’, with phase one of training now being unable to start until next Tuesday.
Phase two of the return – set to be presented in the next seven days and not yet approved by the government – cannot start before May 25, leading to suggestions of pushing the date for a potential return to action back to June 19.
The report also says that suggestions from a Premier League directive for players to turn their heads away while tackling and to avoid face-to-face contact were deemed simply ‘unworkable’, with ‘players wanting assurances that they can safely tackle face-to-face’ in both training and in matches.