English Premier League clubs have voted unanimously to return to contact training. The league is a step closer to returning to play after the shutdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
“Squads are not able to train as a group and engage in tackling while minimising any unnecessary close contact,” a statement said after a meeting of all 20 clubs.
“The Premier League’s priority is the health and wellbeing of all participants.”
According to British media estimates, 750 million pounds ($1.38 billion) could be lost in revenue from broadcasters if the season does not resume play.
Clubs return to training last week in small groups with strict restrictions and no contact allowed. It is the first phase of ‘Project Restart’.
1,744 coronavirus tests were conducted on players and staff with a return of eight positives, including Watford defender Adrian Mariappa and Bournemouth keeper Aaron Ramsdale. A third round of testing took place on Monday and Tuesday with no results back yet.
The testing regime has allowed the league to move to phase two, which allows up to 10 players to train together. There will be an ease on the time restrictions on training sessions and players will allowed to be closer.
The third phase would be a step closer to a more typical form of training in the build-up to actual games.
Wednesday’s vote means the league is a step closer to completing the remaining 92 matches of the season.
On Thursday Premier League shareholders will dicuss the business aspects of ‘Project Restart’, including what to do if the season gets cancelled and a possible broadcast rebate.
If broadcasters demand a 330 million pounds (610 million) rebate, as some reports suggest, clubs could still lose out even if the league restarts.
The league had signalled June 12 as a potential restart date but it now looks more likely games will resume later in the month. No Premier League matches have been played since March.