It’s safe to say that there’s a ton of skepticism that the Premier League’s “Project Restart” plan to resume football by June is a feasible plan that fully takes into considerations the safety of its professional athletes. Today’s report in the Telegraph isn’t going to change many opinions in that regard.
Jason Burt writes today that the Premier League’s plan to convince players that, hey it really is safe to train and play football again in a pandemic honest, is to try and create a “sterile bubble” in which players can train and play. This includes, as proposed, playing in neutral stadiums and conducting the remainder of the 2019-20 season “World Cup style” with rigorous testing.
But what about player contact on the pitch? Well, the Premier League apparently has an “answer” to that too, and it produced this gem.
At the same time the core message from the Premier League, in a morning meeting to the captains and senior players followed by one in the afternoon to the 20 managers, is that they need to realise there will be a “new normal” that has to be accepted if football is to resume and this will include changing the way they train and play.
One example that can be cited, and which is expected to be raised, is the contact between players in a tackle with players told there are small changes they can make which will help such as turning their face away when getting up from the challenge and, generally, avoiding face to face contact wherever possible.
LMAO, sure, that’ll do it. The league is apparently leaning heavily on a report from Denmark that states that #actually players only spend 88 seconds on average during a football match within the acceptable social distance of six feet/three meters.
But even if you take that at face value and use it as a means of minimizing the potential of spreading the coronavirus between players, it doesn’t seem to address many of the issues brought up in the 100-point memo brought forth by Premier League physicians, nor the many numerous avenues outside of the matches themselves where the virus could propagate and spread. Nor does it address what would happen if a player tests positive for COVID-19 once the season resumes.
Players would apparently have to sign forms providing written consent that they understand the new league guidelines before they could play in matches. Also the league does seem at least open to the idea of allowing players who are concerned about playing football in the middle of a pandemic an out
The strategies that the league describes to help mitigate and minimize the spread of the virus could be effective, who knows. But at least on current evidence it sure seems to rely on a whole lot of hand-waving and wishful thinking. The easiest and safest decision would be to just cancel the rest of the season and re-evaluate the situation closer to the intended start of the 2020-21 season, or when coronavirus cases have significantly dropped. That sure seems safer than making sure you turn your head after getting clattered by Jefferson Lerma.