Project Restart: Premier League doctors raise concerns over resuming season

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May 5, 2020
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    Premier League leaders Liverpool

    Liverpool lead the table by 25 points but have not played a Premier League game since 7 March

    A number of Premier League club doctors have raised a range of concerns with league bosses over plans to resume the season, BBC Sport has learned.

    One issue that the senior medics have sought assurances over includes their own liability and insurance cover if players contract the virus.

    The Premier League has also been asked to provide some clarity over medical protocols, testing and player welfare.

    The Premier League is hopeful of a potential 8 June resumption.

    The 20 club doctors have been holding their own discussions about Project Restart – the label given to plans to resume action – with a view to feeding their thoughts into the Premier League’s leadership.

    A Premier League source told the BBC that they viewed the move by the medics as a natural part of the process with clubs, and a means of reaching “the best possible set of protocols”.

    They also confirmed that the league was in talks with insurance companies over the issue of club and doctor liability, and that this would be brought up with government representatives this week.

    The Premier League is represented on a cross-sport working group of medical experts and public health officials which will meet for the second time in a week on Wednesday.

    The panel is devising the health and hygiene measures that players, managers and club staff will be asked to agree to before full training and then competition can resume, but only if the government deems it safe to do so.

    The government is set to review its lockdown measures later this week, with the Premier League meeting to vote on the plans next Monday. A number of players and sports medics have already voiced their concerns about whether it is safe to return to action.

    Eamonn Salmon, the chief executive of the Football Medicine and Performance Association (FMPA), has told BBC Sport that opinion among doctors and physios at English football clubs regarding resumption plans was varied.

    Speaking last week, he said: “I guess the views of our members will be a kind of snapshot of society really.

    “There are those who think it can be done, there are those that are doubtful and there are those that probably suggest it is an impossible task.

    “We have to wait, this is a waiting game all the time, it is such a changing landscape and fluctuating on a day to day basis.

    “This is just the start in some respects, whatever proposals are put there it is then open to debate and for comment and opinion to feed into that.”

    If training is resumed before social distancing rules are relaxed, BBC Sport understands players will be tested for coronavirus twice a week and would be screened for symptoms every day.

    All tests would be carried out by health professionals at a drive-through NHS testing facility that each club would have access to. Training grounds will be optimised for social distancing and high hygiene levels.

    In addition:

    • Players must arrive at training grounds in kit and wear masks at all times.
    • They must not shower or eat on the premises. If clubs want to provide players with food, it must be delivered as a takeaway to players’ cars.
    • Only essential medical treatment would be allowed, with all medical staff in full PPE.
    • All meetings and reviews must take place virtually and off-site.

    In Germany, where the Bundesliga is set to become the first major football league in Europe to return to competition, 10 positive results have been returned from 1,724 coronavirus tests from clubs in the top two divisions.

    Cubs have been training in groups and the tests are being taken before a planned return to training as teams.

    Measures including “the isolation of the affected person” have been taken, said the DFL.

    Top-flight side Cologne have had no further Covid-19 infections after three people tested positive last week.

    Bundesliga officials suggested resuming on 9 May but the government delayed the decision and a restart may now be on 16 or 23 May.

    Source

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