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Premier League new normal: No face masks for subs, sterilised balls and drinks breaks

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'The Premier League laid out a clinical plan for when the action resumes behind closed doors.' (stock photo)

'The Premier League laid out a clinical plan for when the action resumes behind closed doors.' (stock photo)

PA

'The Premier League laid out a clinical plan for when the action resumes behind closed doors.' (stock photo)

Premier League clubs have unanimously voted through the final set of rules for the season to restart on Wednesday, with players told they will not have to wear face masks while on the substitutes' bench.

The move is a departure from what happens in the German Bundesliga, as the Premier League laid out a clinical plan for when the action resumes behind closed doors.

Teams are strongly encouraged to fly to games on the day of a fixture, with clubs chartering bigger aircraft to comply with social distancing, but will be allowed to stay in hotels overnight if they prefer, after the UK government permitted an exception for athletes.

Premier League compliance officers will vet hotels close to a stadium, although players will not be quarantined, as has happened in Germany, and will be allowed to go outside as long as they observe social distancing. In other measures:

  • Drinks breaks will be allowed during games, usually midway through the first half, in an acknowledgement of the summer conditions, with players using their own water bottles.
  • With no ballboys, sterilised replacement match balls will be placed on top of cones at pitchside.
  • If there is only one tunnel, players will be led out in a staggered formation, with the away team first.
  • Managers, coaches and players will not have to wear face masks, but will be reminded to observe social distancing, especially when speaking to the fourth official. Backroom staff will be told to stay seated.
  • Medical staff will wear personal protective equipment if they go on to the pitch to treat an injured player and the fourth official will also cover his face.
  • Players will have to hand-sanitise when they go on and off the pitch and be reminded that handshakes and celebrations that breach social distancing are banned, as is spitting or clearing their nose, although they will not be cautioned if they do so.
  • Match officials have been self-isolating and will have been tested at least twice before games start. The Var system will be used as normal.

As the Premier League prepared to play the remaining 92 matches, clubs gave the final sign-off on the number of people allowed into a stadium.

On average this is expected to be about 300, with the stadium split into three zones - red, amber and green. A maximum of 105 people will be allowed into the red zone, which covers the pitch, tunnel area and changing rooms, and they will all have "clinical passports" downloaded on their phones, which can be scanned as a barcode, showing they have had a Covid test within the past five days.

The Premier League argues that using the passport system, with players undergoing temperature checks on the bus as they travel to a stadium, means that the risk is reduced further and masks are therefore not needed. Teams will use at least two buses to ensure they comply with social distancing.

There was also a discussion to adopt measures to acknowledge the Black Lives Matter movement. Players will wear the slogan on their shirts in place of their names for the first round of fixtures. The players will also wear the message elsewhere on their shirts, probably on the sleeve, once agreement is reached with the Premier League's commercial partners, which is expected to be a formality. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Telegraph.co.uk