Representatives of the Premier League met with the UK government on Friday as tentative plans are formulated for a possible restart of the football season in June.
Delegates from the world of sport, along with senior industry medical officers, held the first in a series of meetings aimed at getting elite sport back underway this summer.
Oliver Dowden MP, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, tweeted today:
The Premier League, who met with its 20 clubs in a separate shareholders’ meeting, later released a statement saying they “welcomed the creation of the government medical working group for a return of elite sport, which met for the first time this morning.”
There is some way to go before we see a ball kicked again, then, with the UK government’s next review of lockdown guidelines scheduled to take place next Thursday.
Beyond that, an agreement would have to be struck about testing procedures, amongst other logistical issues such as venue locations, before football is given the green light to return.
In their statement, the Premier League accepted that clubs “will only return to training and playing with government guidance, under expert medical advice and after consultation with players and managers.”
That consultation with playing and coaching staff, along with the LMA and PFA, could be another significant hurdle to overcome, given some of the concerns raised in recent days.
Five Premier League clubs partially reopened their training grounds on Monday and Tuesday, although the players involved were restricted to individual training sessions.
For the umpteenth time over the last few months, the Premier League and its clubs “reconfirmed their commitment to finishing the 2019/20 season” in their latest press release.
The current academy campaign has fallen by the wayside, though, it was revealed on Friday.
The Premier League’s full statement reads as follows:
At a meeting of Premier League Shareholders today, clubs discussed possible steps towards planning to resume the 2019/20 season, when it is safe and appropriate to do so.
It was reiterated that the thoughts of all are with those directly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Furthermore, the Premier League’s priority is the health and safety of players, coaches, managers, club staff, supporters and the wider community.
The League and clubs are considering the first tentative moves forward and will only return to training and playing with Government guidance, under expert medical advice and after consultation with players and managers.
The League welcomed the creation of the Government medical working group for a return of elite sport, which met for the first time this morning.
No decisions were taken at today’s Shareholders’ meeting and clubs exchanged views on the information provided regarding “Project Restart”.
It was agreed that the PFA, LMA, players and managers are key to this process and will be further consulted.
The clubs reconfirmed their commitment to finishing the 2019/20 season, maintaining integrity of the competition and welcomed the Government’s support.