The Premier League’s Project Restart could be delayed after players expressed their safety concerns during a two-hour meeting with the league on Wednesday. Some players have already spoken publicly about concerns about their health around a potential return to action, with the Premier League continuing to push for the 2019/20 season to restart in mid-June.
However, The Guardian reports that the likely return date of matches could be pushed back to at least June 19 after a number of concerns were raised by the players during Wednesday’s meeting with the Premier League.
It was the first time that players had an opportunity to share their views directly with the Premier League and, during the meeting that included Newcastle’s Jamaal Lascelles and all 20 top-flight captains, a number used the opportunity to express their concerns.
Players aired their concerns over safety, which the Premier League is hoping to solve with their return to action protocols, while others were concerned that giving their consent to play would leave them legally exposed if they contract coronavirus – although those fears have been allayed.
A league-wide return to training has already been pushed back, with the Premier League set to present their protocols for final approval to clubs on Monday – which likely pushes training back towards the end of the week.
However, there are still a number of issues to overcome as that return will not see players in contact training and a second stage of protocols, which would have to be agreed with the Government, is not yet devised – and there is no timeline on when the authorities will issue their ‘stage 2’ guidance for elite sport.
Off the field, decisions still need to be made on whether behind closed doors matches will take place in the usual home and away format or whether neutral grounds, which was opposed by clubs on Monday, will be required.