Coronavirus shutdown could replace main close-season break for Premier League clubs
PUBLISHED: 10:07 29 March 2020 | UPDATED: 10:08 29 March 2020
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Premier League stars could face the prospect of the coronavirus shutdown replacing their main close-season break.
Top-flight clubs are seriously considering telling their players to treat the current hiatus as a replacement of their traditional summer holiday.
Top players have tailored fitness and training programmes from their clubs but could now instead be told to take a full break, the PA news agency understands.
The Premier League is currently shut down until April 30, as the coronavirus pandemic continues to grip the UK.
League bosses want to complete the current campaign, with matches likely to be played behind closed doors to make that happen.
Norwich City sporting director Stuart Webber wants to see the season played out to a conclusion but believes the players’ welfare has to also be at the forefront of those making that decision.
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“At this stage we all have to work to try and finish it but also have an understanding these athletes need time to prepare and if we are to finish then are we looking at a lot of games in a short period of time,” he said. “These players are not machines, we can’t just chuck them in and say go and perform without serious risk of injury. We have to respect the players.”
Many of the clubs anticipate further extensions to the existing Premier League suspension, with match action possibly delayed as far as June.
Should the clubs tell their players to take full rest now, then they would be tasked with carrying out a mini pre-season before the league resumes.
If league bosses are able to complete this season’s schedule by the end of June, then players could enjoy a number of weeks break.
But any further slippage in completing this term could reduce the gap between the current campaign and the next season.
The Premier League clubs are therefore looking at the most prudent player welfare measures, and whether asking them to keep working hard amid social distancing and training individually actually represents the best sense.