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Three sets of kit, no car-shares and bring your own towel - inside Premier League's return

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'Clubs will have to educate their players on the “new normal”.' (stock photo)

'Clubs will have to educate their players on the “new normal”.' (stock photo)

'Clubs will have to educate their players on the “new normal”.' (stock photo)

Premier League players are due to report back to work this week with their club's training grounds transformed into "sterile bubbles", according to one of the senior figures involved in the detailed planning.

Physically, those training grounds will look different; from the gazebos at the entrance where temperature checks and health questionnaires will be carried out, to buildings being off limits and signs everywhere reminding the players of the risks of Covid-19, while hammering home the hygiene message.

Clubs will even get back to basics, including showing players the best way to wash their hands, with soap for at least 20 seconds, and strictly observing social distancing with one-way systems and markings all around the training ground so that it hopefully becomes second nature on and off the pitch.

In effect, clubs will have to educate their players on the "new normal". It is then up to them to make the necessary changes to their behaviour, and lifestyle, to ensure they comply.

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The process will begin from the moment they dress, with players told to wear their training gear - they will be issued with three sets of kit - put on their own strappings and drive to the training ground on their own.

There will be no car-shares and, for any member of staff allowed access to the training ground, no public transport. Players have also been told to clean their cars regularly - inside and out - and bring their own towels and water bottles.

Confirmation

They will have undergone an antigen test up to 48 hours before tomorrow's return and will take tests twice a week, and also have to provide written confirmation they have received and agreed with the club's Covid-19 policy.

That has been interpreted by some as an attempt at a legal waiver by the clubs, but this is not the case.

Players can train only if they have been in the UK for the past 14 days.

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Clubs will appoint a Covid-19 officer as overseer, who will report directly to the board, while the Premier League has also told them to keep, and show on demand, records of their training schedules, performance data (including GPS tracking equipment) and videos and recordings of training sessions. The players will arrive at specific, staggered times and be directed to a designated car parking space at least three places away from another vehicle. They will have 15 minutes to prepare and will be encouraged to wear a snood or face mask while at the training ground.

There will be no spitting or chewing gum allowed. Regular preparations, such as massages, will be banned unless they are approved by the club doctor and, if there is any treatment, the person administering it has to wear full PPE gear.

Players can only go into the dressing room to use the lavatory. The canteen will remain closed and, where possible, all doors left open. Door handles may even be removed.

The gym will be accessible for a limited - pre-booked - time. Players can work on their own with all equipment disinfected before and after use, although clubs will probably set up equipment outdoors.

Controlled

Training sessions will be strictly controlled with no more than five players - including a goalkeeper - per pitch along with up to three members of staff: coach, goalkeeping coach, physio. The guidance is that it would be best if these groups stayed together throughout the first phase of the return.

The sessions cannot last more than 75 minutes and are limited to passing, shooting, finishing and crossing drills and fitness work. There will be no tackling or "opposed activity of any kind".

All footballs, GPS units and other equipment will already be on the pitch and will have been disinfected, as will corner flags, cones, goalposts, gloves and boots as well as the pitch itself. Staff will even be encouraged to disinfect equipment - including boots - during any breaks. At the end of the session the equipment will be moved to a designated area, and the players told to leave within 15 minutes and collect food parcels and treatments, including any supplements, which will usually be left wrapped up next to their cars. Only when they get home can players shower and change.

At training, managers and coaches can observe from a distance, but have to organise sessions and tactical plans via video conference. They cannot stay at training to hold meetings. Once everyone has left, the training ground will be cleaned daily.

This routine will continue throughout "phase one", which could last seven to 14 days before the next stage starts if there are no problems. Players will be urged to report any symptoms and self-isolate if necessary. The hope is that because hygiene and social distancing are being observed, the whole squad will not have to do so. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Telegraph Media Group Limited [2022]


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