Neutral venues and player screening on the agenda for City’s Premier League meeting
- Credit: PA
Playing games at ‘approved venues’ and the Premier League funding health testing of players are among the topics set to be discussed at Friday’s next shareholders’ meeting.
Norwich City will be represented remotely on a video conference call, along with the other 19 top flight clubs, to continue planning to complete the season when it is safe to do so.
The professional game has been suspended in the UK since March but under a reported ‘Project Restart’ proposal there is on going dialogue between key stakeholders and government and public health officials regarding a potential return in early June.
Brighton chief executive Paul Barber says being unable to play all games home and away as planned would be a ‘further imperfection’ on top of games behind-closed-doors.
“We would expect to play our remaining five games at the Amex that is an absolute priority for us. You expect to play an equal number of games home and away,” he said, reported by PA.
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“Whatever ends up being the end to the season is going to be imperfect and for us that imperfection will almost certainly be playing behind closed doors. What we don’t want is a further imperfection of having to play at a neutral venue.”
Regular testing is another key part of the restart plans, both at the Premier League and EFL level. Though the Premier League will fund the purchase of these tests, it accepts that can only be done when there are sufficient tests available to ensure none are being taken away from the areas of society which need them most, in particular the NHS frontline.
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It has previously been reported that as many as 66,000 tests would be needed at EFL level. Premier League clubs will also hold further talks on return-to-training protocols, with calls for players to wear face masks at training, and for training equipment to be disinfected by staff wearing personal protective equipment (PPE).
Further consideration will also need to be given to where players and staff should be based if and when matches restart - whether at home or effectively quarantined in hotels.
Premier League medical adviser Mark Gillett and Football Association head of medicine Charlotte Cowie will be involved in a separate meeting involving medical officials from a range of sports, along with representatives from Public Health England.
The meeting, which will be led by the department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, is understood to be taking place on Friday, in a sign of the government’s apparent commitment to restarting professional sport where it is safe to do so.
In the Premier League, it is understood there remains the desire to retain video assistant referee (VAR) support for the final games and that social distancing guidelines will be followed in setting up the officials, either at the Stockley Park headquarters or on-site at stadiums.
Discussions will also continue on the various contractual issues around existing player deals due to expire on June 30 and loan returns.
City have Ondrej Duda currently on loan from Hertha Berlin but sporting director Stuart Webber was unable to confirm last week whether the Slovakian would be expected to stay at the Canaries should the season continue well into the summer.
In Germany, a final decision on whether the Bundesliga can return will now reportedly take place next week, meaning the initial provisional start date of May 9 has been pushed back.