Premier League clubs have voted unanimously to approve a return to contact training, in another significant step towards the resumption of matches “when safe to do so”.
Premier League soccer clubs on Wednesday voted unanimously to return to contact training, including tackling, as the English top flight moved a step closer to a resumption after the shutdown caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic.
A statement following a meeting of all 20 clubs, said: “Squads are now able to train as a group and engage in tackling while minimising any unnecessary close contact.
“The Premier League’s priority is the health and wellbeing of all participants.”
Clubs last week began the first phase of ‘Project Restart’ after agreeing to a return to training in small groups under strict limitations and no contact.
The announcement that Phase Two can commence follows extensive testing of players and staff for coronavirus — with eight positives among players and staff, including Watford defender Adrian Mariappa and Bournemouth keeper Aaron Ramsdale.
A third round of testing took place on Monday and Tuesday with results expected later this week.
No matches have been played in the Premier League since March when the coronavirus pandemic shut down world sport.
However, Wednesday’s vote is a big step towards the Premier League completing the 92 remaining fixtures.
Phase Two allows up to 10 players to work together and would ease the time restrictions on training sessions and let players to be closer.
The third phase would be a move to a more typical form of training in the build-up to actual games.
The league had signalled June 12 as a potential start date but it now looks likely to be later in the month.
On Thursday Premier League shareholders will discuss the business aspects of ‘Project Restart’, including a possible broadcast rebate and what to do if the season is curtailed.
Once games do restart, they will be held without fans in attendance but the league has yet to decide whether they will be played in the normal home and away fashion or at neutral venues.