Earlier today, the Premier League confirmed that players would return to training tomorrow to kick off phase 1 of Project Restart.
Phase 1 will involve players training while adhering to social distancing guidelines. So there will be four to five players to a pitch training for a maximum of 75 minutes.
The length of this initial phase is dependent on its success. The league is fully committed to getting these first steps implemented before moving on to phase 2, which will involve group training.
Premier League chief executive Richard Masters has spoken out after today’s meeting in which the league unanimously approved to push forward with phase 1. The Mirror has published some of his comments.
This is what Masters had to say about the return to training, and what to expect over the next few weeks:
“Today we haven’t talked to the players or even that clubs yet about return to contact training, in terms of the fine details of protocols. We’re anticipating we can do that in the next week to 10 days.
“Before any decisions are made exactly the same as this stage’s decision, we will have very similar meetings with players and managers to explain to them how contact training would work and so they can raise their concerns and questions and we can answer any medical concerns they might have.
“It’s exactly the same process repeated we have done for this stage of the protocols, we’ll repeat that for stage two.”
The league is rigidly adhering to this process of returning in phases. Each phase will be rigorously examined before even discussing details of the next phase.
That is why this initial phase is so crucial to reaching the stage where the season can be restarted.
Despite calls from managers to have this min-preseason resemble a full six week one, Masters has not ruled out the tentative start date of June 12th.
However, that depends on how many setbacks are encountered during each phase. Masters had this to say about the restart of this season:
“We have been focused on this staging post, it’s not a firm commitment, for June 12.
“What we are able to do today is basically to move forward on small group training.
“Next week, we are going to be discussing full contact training protocols for that.
“Once you know when you can start full contact training and we have had a proper discussion with clubs about how much is required to create the fitness levels before they can start playing, we are then in a position to be able to confirm when the season start is.
“So we haven’t changed the start date, we have to be flexible about it. What we don’t want to do is continually move that start date. So we haven’t changed it, we need to be flexible and acknowledge we are in a step by step process.”
Masters has been an outstanding communicator since the league started planning this season’s return. He’s been open and honest about what to expect.
The league has also implemented this initial phase in as safe a way as possible. That should leave them in good stead to slowly ramp up to group training.
If all goes well, we could see the return of this season sometime next month.