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PL Restart: “Players Suppressing their Fears Does Not Make Any Sense”, Brighton chief executive insists

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Brighton chief executive Paul Barber has urged players in the Premier League not to be afraid to express their concerns over the return to training and the protocols put in place to guide the training sessions.

Recall that clubs in the Premier League have commenced training in small groups since Tuesday evening after all the players and non-playing staff of the league were tested for coronavirus. Despite the stringent protocols put in place to ensure that the coronavirus pandemic which has halted the season since March 13, has no place to spread at the training facilities of clubs, some players have voiced their concerns over the whole arrangement.

Chelsea’s defensive midfielder N’Golo Kante and Watford captain Troy Deeney are the prominent footballers in the league who have made their concerns known and have withdrawn from the training.

Hence, Paul Barber who was at the forefront of clubs’ executives that successfully agitated against playing the remaining 92 fixtures of the Premier League at neutral venues, urged the league to ensure that the players are carried along at every step of the way to the restart of the 2019-2020 season. He said he wants players “to have the freedom to speak as they feel they need to.”

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“It is very important we bring players along with us every step of the way,” Barber said. “They should be allowed to express their concerns. Players suppressing their fears does not make any sense to me because the fear is still there.”

The Premier League which hope to restart the season in mid-June is also hoping to end the ongoing phase of training which is training without contact, as early as possible. Clubs are already hoping that they could move to the second phase of training which would allow for contacts and lesser protocols.

“The first stage was difficult and took a long time because it was new, it was very detailed and when it was first conceived we were very much in the height of this pandemic and the numbers were horrific,” Paul Barber said.

“The second stage is in a slightly different environment where the numbers are coming down, the government is slowly easing the lockdown and encouraging people to return to work.

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“Having said that, the risks of the next stage of the protocol are higher because we are asking for larger groups to come together and for there to be contact. Playing contact will change that again because we are mixing a very different group mixing our group.

“It is going to take time and it is going to be even more detailed and will no doubt lead to more questions from the players.”

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