Premier League clubs vote to resume contact training

Chelsea’s Brazilian midfielder Willian, left, attends a training session at Chelsea’s Cobham training facility in this Feb. 24 file photo. (AFP)
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Updated 28 May 2020

Premier League clubs vote to resume contact training

  • Discussions ongoing as work continues towards resuming the season, when condition allows

LONDON: Premier League clubs voted unanimously on Wednesday to resume contact training as the English top-flight took a significant step towards a possible restart in June.

The Premier League was put on hold in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, with Liverpool agonizingly close to the title.

Clubs returned to training in small and socially distanced groups last week but they have now moved to stage two of the “return to training protocol.” 

“Premier League shareholders today voted unanimously to resume contact training, marking another step towards restarting the Premier League season, when safe to do so,” the league said in a statement.

“Squads are now able to train as a group and engage in tackling while minimizing any unnecessary close contact.”

It added: “Discussions are ongoing as work continues towards resuming the season, when conditions allow.”

The small number of positive tests from the first two rounds of testing at Premier League clubs has raised hopes of a return next month.

Eight cases of coronavirus among players and staff have been detected from 1,744 tests in the Premier League.

In the second-tier Championship, just two positive tests were registered from 1,014 tests.

A targeted return date of June 12 was described by Premier League chief executive Richard Masters last week as a “staging post.” 

Players and coaches have argued they will need until at least the end of June to reduce the risk of injuries after such a long layoff.

Some players have voiced fears over their safety and that of their families due to the virus.

Watford captain Troy Deeney has not returned to training after three positive cases were registered by the Hornets over concerns he could spread the virus to his five-month-old son.

French World Cup winner N’Golo Kante has also been given permission by Chelsea to train at home.

Germany’s Bundesliga has already managed to complete two rounds of fixtures since returning behind closed doors and there has been little player opposition to La Liga’s plans to return in Spain from June 11.

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson said playing at an empty Anfield and winning the Premier League title with no fans present would be “pretty strange.” 

Liverpool were 25 points clear of 2019 champions Manchester City when the league was shut down, on the verge of being crowned English champions for the first time in 30 years.

“Of course it would feel different because if you win any trophy and receive it without any fans there, it would be pretty strange,” he told the BBC.

“We still have work to do and we still need to perform at a high level right the way until the season finishes because we want to finish as strongly as we can to make sure it is a full season,” he added.


7th Pakistan cricket team member tests positive for COVID-19

Updated 28 November 2020

7th Pakistan cricket team member tests positive for COVID-19

  • Six members of the 53-member squad tested positive on Tuesday when the team arrived in New Zealand from Pakistan
  • Under New Zealand rules, people in managed isolation generally are tested on the third and 12th days of the isolation period

WELLINGTON, New Zealand: A seventh member of the Pakistan cricket team in New Zealand has tested positive for COVID-19 and will join other infected teammates in quarantine.
Six members of the 53-member squad tested positive on Tuesday when the team arrived in New Zealand from Pakistan and began its compulsory 14-day stay in managed isolation. The seventh member tested positive Friday when players and officials again were tested on the third day of their isolation period.
Under New Zealand rules, people in managed isolation generally are tested on the third and 12th days of the isolation period. The new infection was reported Saturday by New Zealand’s ministry of health in its daily update of COVID cases.
“One additional member of the Pakistan cricket squad has today tested positive during routine testing,” the Ministry of Health said in a statement. “The remainder of the results from the squad’s day 3 swab testing — apart from the six who have already returned a positive result — are negative.”
People who test positive while in isolation can be held beyond the usual 14-day period.
The Pakistan team has already received a final warning from the health ministry after players breached protocols on their first day in isolation. The ministry said closed-circuit television footage from the team’s Christchurch hotel showed squad members mingling in corridors and sharing food.
An exemption which would have allowed team members to train in small groups after their third day in isolation has been revoked. But will be reviewed later if no further breaches occur. Players and team management are required to stay in their rooms for the first three days of the isolation period.
New Zealand’s director general of health, Dr. Ashley Bloomfield, said he took a “dim view” of the team’s failure to obey the regulations which had been clearly spelled out to team members on their arrival. Further breaches might lead to the team being expelled from New Zealand.
“Rather than being in their own rooms which is a requirement for that first three days, until that first test comes back, there was some mingling in the hallways, chatting, sharing food and not wearing masks,” Bloomfield said.
A wider outbreak among squad members would also be a serious issue which might put the tour in jeopardy. Pakistan is due to play New Zealand in three Twenty20 internationals and two test matches. The first T20 will take place on Dec. 18 and the tests are the main features of New Zealand’s domestic summer.
On Friday, the health ministry said the team’s conduct had “significantly improved” after the warning was issued.
“We thank members of the team for their co-operation with the case investigations following the announcement of positive cases within the team,” the Ministry said. “Co-operation and compliance are critical in ensuring New Zealand is kept safe from COVID-19.”