Premier League have received the green light to engage in “close-contact” and “competitive” training by the United Kingdom’s government as they make preparations to resume the league.
Last week saw clubs return to training in smaller groups as they were urged to observe the social distancing measures issued on May 13.
The 2019/20 Premier League season has been suspended since March after the country was hit by the coronavirus pandemic, with officials looking at the possibility of restarting in June.
“Stage Two training can be described as the resumption of close-contact [interaction within the two-metre social-distancing boundary] training where pairs, small groups and/or teams will be able to interact in much closer contact [e.g. close quarters coaching, combat sports sparring, teams sports tackling, technical equipment sharing, etc],” the guidance read.
“The progression of training into Stage Two is vital to prepare fully for the return of competitive sporting fixtures in many sports. Close-contact training is required to replicate match formations and conditions, so that the sport-specific demands can be placed on the body, mind and senses.
“Close-contact training develops the sport-specific fitness which is an essential element for player safety and a reduced risk of injury during competition.
“It is anticipated that engaging in this type of training would start with smaller ‘clusters’ of 2-3 athletes and eventually progress to larger groups of 4-12 athletes, and ultimately full-team training, without social distancing possible at all times. Under Stage Two conditions, as per Stage One, social distancing will continue to be the expectation at all other times aside from technical training.”
The phase two given moves the league a step closer to getting the full go ahead to restart.
Nigel Huddleston, who is UK’s sport minister added: “This new guidance marks the latest phase of a carefully phased return to training process for elite athletes, designed to limit the risk of injury and protect the health and safety of all involved. We are absolutely clear that individual sports must review whether they have the appropriate carefully controlled medical conditions in place before they can proceed, and secure the confidence of athletes, coaches and support staff.
“Given the wide ranging input we have received from medical experts, we believe these pragmatic measures should provide further reassurance that a safe, competitive training environment can be delivered, as we work towards a restart of professional sport behind closed doors when it is safe to do so.”
Liverpool would be looking to continue from where they left off having taken a 25 points lead over second placed