Another day, another twist in the tale of the unimaginably named ‘Project Restart’.
On today’s installment of updates, there’s talk of an imminent make or break meeting involving all of the Premier League captains, information regarding what clubs will be expected to do if the talks are successful and even rumours of a player revolt.
How interesting. Let’s get into it shall we?
Gordon Taylor Confident Ahead of Captain’s Meeting
Much maligned PFA CEO Gordon Taylor has revealed that he is confident that ‘Project Restart’ will get the go ahead from players ahead of an potentially explosive meeting on Wednesday.
He will chair a video call involving each club’s captain and union representative as well as medical experts and Premier League bosses to discuss the way forward, according to the Mirror.
Maintaining social distancing during training and the COVID-19 testing process are two points of contention and despite the controversy surrounding these issues, Taylor is hopeful of a positive resolution.
“We’ve got the best possible people available to answer the questions on different issues like testing, if someone tests positive, spitting, social distancing and BAME players with regard to the data which suggestions they are more susceptible,” he told the Mirror.
He added: “We have to be mindful that we’ve been in lockdown for six or seven weeks, it’s been a terrible tragedy, the global pandemic, yet we also have to be aware that if we don’t return soon then the whole economy will crash and the consequences will be extremely severe.”
Taylor’s Optimism May Be Naive
Despite Taylor’s optimistic outlook, some players may refuse to return to non-contact training on Monday – even if Project Restart gets the green light.
Raheem Sterling and Danny Rose have both expressed concerns over the Premier League’s imminent return and they are not the only players who have reservations.
The Mirror have reported that the one club has already been informed by two of its players that they will not be returning, while Aston Villa boss Dean Smith has revealed that two members of his squad who suffer with asthma may not play.
The PFA want assurances that anyone who chooses not to resume training due to legitimate concerns will not face punitive action.
“There are certain players who are going to be more vulnerable than others according to particular conditions which is another part of the equation,” Taylor said.
“I think it’s a time when everybody is entitled to make their own decisions so long as we put in place the very best people to answer any questions or misgivings they have and that’s what we are trying to do.”
What Will Be Expected of Premier League Clubs
We’ve also received further information about what will be expected from Premier League clubs before football can resume.
According to the Daily Mail, each side will have to appoint a ‘coronavirus officer’ to ensure that hygiene standards are maintained at training grounds.
The person choose to fulfil the role must be a senior figure with appropriate health and safety training, though they cannot be a member of the club’s medical team. In further hygiene news each training facility must undergo a strict occupational risk assessment by Friday.
The police have also said that in order for Project Restart to go ahead, clubs must foot the bill of ensuring social distancing is adhered to if supporters congregate at stadiums.
Matches are supposed to be behind closed doors but the police have concerns about fans floating the rules and turning up anyway. This led to neutral stadiums being proposed. However, If clubs hire enough stewards to manage this situation, the police have indicated that they would support the resumption of the Premier League at each club’s home ground.
Premier League Sides to Opposes Relegation if Championship Season Is Cancelled
Finishing off our Project Restart roundup is news that Premier League clubs are ready to oppose the promotion of clubs from the Championship if the second tier season is not completed.
Despite being warned by the FA that scrapping relegation is off the table, several top flight sides are arguing that promotion and relegation must be awarded under the same set of circumstances.
According to the Telegraph, the Premier League is aware of a real threat of legal action if relegated clubs are replaced by promoted sides who did not complete a full season.
The FA’s refusal to consider the idea of scrapping top flight relegation is somewhat weakened by the fact that they have already declared Steps 3-7 of the Non-League pyramid null and void – setting a precedent to do the same at the higher levels of the game.