The Premier League is continuing to push forward with their plans to get this season resumed. As of right now, players are expected to return to training by Monday with a tentative plan to restart the season in early June.
There seems to have been a lot of progress made to make Project Restart a reality during the Premier League’s last meeting on Monday. EPL chief Richard Masters made the following comments recently about setting building blocks to get the season underway:
“I think really the talk at the moment should be about the tentative steps we are taking now that the announcements have been made about getting back to training and only once players have been consulted.
“It’s about the building blocks… we have talked about four weeks of training but haven’t agreed yet as we haven’t agreed to go back to training yet.
“I think I’ve said there was a lot of discussion about players and how important they are and that clubs are determined as part of the consultation process that their concerns and questions are heard. They will be later this week.
“We’re really just talking about return to training protocols. In isolation, it’s a big decision. But whenever professional athletes go back to training, the opportunity arises for them to train in different ways. But the players have to be consulted properly. The first meetings will take place this week.”
Some players are reportedly reluctant to return next week. The clubs and league will have to decide how to best handle this situation as there will be some players who will not take the risk.
We would expect each player who opts not to return will be handled on a case by case basis.
While next Monday’s return to training is looking more and more like a reality, the start of the season is still up in the air. Masters wouldn’t commit to the tentative June 12th restart date.
This was his response when asked about when the matches might take place:
“I really wouldn’t want to make a prediction now. Clearly, we have plans but they’re all flexible. I think before you’ve even decided to go back to training that it isn’t right to start to talk about when we think we’re going to get back to playing.
“There are many steps to be taken, many hurdles to get over before we get to that point. And of course, part of the government’s announcement [on Sunday] was about the direction of travel of Covid itself might frustrate those plans.”
It looks like June 12th is the earliest possible restart date, which would give the players over 3 weeks of training to get as fit as possible.
However, with the majority of teams having 9 games left to play, the issue of expiring contracts will come into play. Most contracts run until June 30th, and the season will not get completed by then.
The Premier League have issued the following statement about expiring contracts:
“At Monday’s Shareholders’ meeting, Premier League clubs unanimously agreed to be allowed to enter into short-term contract extensions with players whose deals are due to expire on 30 June of this year.
“As the UK government indicated on Monday its willingness for live sport to return behind closed doors from June 1, the Premier League is exploring paths to resuming the 2019/20 season after this date.
“Clubs were concerned over expiring player contracts and registration issues posed by the potential of the 2019/20 season extending beyond 30 June.
“So, it was agreed by all shareholders that clubs and players can mutually agree to extend their contracts beyond 30 June until the end of the season.”
This is an area where each club will have to work with their players on expiring deals individually to extend their contracts. Newcastle have Andy Carroll, Javier Manquillo, Matty Longstaff, and Rob Elliot in the 25-man squad whose contracts run out on June 30th.