Premier League discussions take place as footballers prepare to return to controlled training

Picture credit: PA

The Premier League has been drawing up plans to restart the season next month, but is facing the possibility of a delay to its Project Restart after a series of meetings with players and managers caused opposing views.

Players had not had a chance until Wednesday to share their thoughts on the restart plans and at a two-hour meeting between 20 club captains, Premier League officials and the deputy chief medical officer, Jonathan van Tam, several of them raised their concerns about the proposed plan.

Earlier in the week, there was a push for fixtures to be completed at home and away venues, a vote of agreement on how out of contract and loan players could be offered new deals beyond June, as well as discussions about testing and how that could lead to a return to group training.

Some players raised concerns over safety, which the Premier League says it hopes to address with its return-to-play protocol. Others were concerned that giving their consent to the proposed plan, could potentially leave them legally exposed should they contract the virus. However, these fears are said to have been addressed.

The plan outlines that players will drive to training in their kit and alone in their cars. Their temperature will be checked at the entrance to the training ground. They will park in a designated space, three spaces away from anyone else. There will be no food at the training ground. They will train in a group of five for a maximum of 75 minutes. They will also be encouraged to wear a mask or snood. No tackling or spitting will be permitted. Everything will be disinfected, including the ball, pitch, goalposts, cones, and other training equipment.

The aim is to make Premier League training grounds among the safest places in England, with players tested at least twice a week.

If the Premier League plans are given the go ahead by the government, non-contact training sessions in small groups could resume.

Each club will have to appoint a designated Covid-19 Officer, who cannot be a member of their medical staff. Clubs are also required to conduct an occupational health risk assessment by 15 May and make results available to the Premier League on request.

All players have been given a 40-page document on training protocols and each club was represented on the videoconference meeting by their captain.

Meanwhile, Jose Mourinho has denied reports that he has attempted to delay the Premier League's 'Project Restart' over concerns for players' fitness. It was claimed that Mourinho, who is the Tottenham head coach, called for players to have at least one month of training before football could resume, during a meeting with other Premier League managers on Wednesday.

All 24 Championship clubs have nine games still to play this season -- the campaign was suspended on March 13 -- leaving 108 fixtures yet to be played, plus the end-of-season playoffs between clubs finishing between third and sixth.