The government in the United Kingdom has given the go-ahead for elite sports in the country that have “the appropriate carefully controlled medical conditions in place” to resume close-contact training.
This is phase two in the process of returning to full competitive elite sports in June. This also implies that the Premier League that has been very keen on resuming the disrupted 2019-2020 season can begin close contact training this week, all things being equal.
The government guidelines for this phase says: “Stage Two training can be described as the resumption of close contact (interaction within the two-metre social distancing boundary) training where pairs, small groups and/or teams will be able to interact in much closer contact (e.g. close quarters coaching, combat sports sparring, teams sports tackling, technical equipment sharing, etc).”
Recall that for the past 6 days, clubs in the league have been training in small groups under stringent social distancing guidelines. Though some players in the league are yet to buy the idea of training amid the dreaded coronavirus pandemic, most players feel it is a good sign that competitive football which has been halted since March 13 in the UK would soon restart.
Also, training in small groups without close contact is a strange practice in a contact sport like football. Some players like Brighton defender Bernardo had said it has been hard to adapt to not tackling in training.
Though the United Kingdom has given the go-ahead for sports to resume close-contact training, the clubs in the Premier League and other stakeholders would have to subject it to vote on Wednesday. If at least 14 of the clubs agree that the league can resume close-contact training, the guidelines for that to happen would be provided just like in the first phase.
But before then, the second phase of the coronavirus test is expected to be carried out today, May 25, and tomorrow. The outcome of the test might go a long way to influence the voting pattern of the clubs on Wednesday.
After this phase, the next is phase three which could be declared open in June. In phase three, the Premier League and other elite sports in the United Kingdom will get permission to resume competitive matches but behind closed doors. The league will then have the opportunity to complete the remaining 92 fixtures in the season without fans on the stands until coronavirus vaccines are found.