A high percentage of medical staff in the Premier League and EFL are angry about the lack of consultation they’ve received as plans to resume action in England continue to intensify. Meanwhile in Italy, Serie A’s return date has been delayed.
A survey of 138 medical staff (PL, EFL) across England’s top four divisions found that more than half do not fully understand their roles.
The UK’s Project Restart has been in full flow over the past few weeks, with all 20 top-flight clubs unanimously agreeing today to start socially distant group training sessions from tomorrow onwards.
However, this latest update just emphasises some of the issues at hand.
A significant number of frontline medical practioners – including doctors, physiotherapists and sports therapists – do not believe they have been fully or effectively consulted surrounding medical issues relating to first-team training making its return.
During a Football Medicine and Performance Association (FMPA) statement today, a number of issues that need resolving were identified.
They include “professional indemnity and medical malpractice insurance, poor communication and being placed under pressure to conform,” as Premier League clubs are poised to begin the next phase of training tomorrow – a step-up from the previously imposed individual sessions being observed.
Medical staff unhappy after being left in the dark
As per the statement, almost 50% of respondents within England’s top-flight and 68% in the EFL reported they are not fully understanding of their roles, responsibilities and potential liability in regards to a training return.
Many suggested Project Restart was heading in the right direction after clubs agreed to small group training sessions, but FMPA CEO Eamonn Salmon said they have not yet received a copy of the medical protocol from either the EPL or EFL – so there’s clearly more work to be done. You can read the statement in full, here:
Elsewhere in England, Premier League chief executive Richard Masters confirmed the league’s target resumption date – June 12 – is both flexible and subject to change.
Players will have to maintain social distancing rules during training sessions in small groups, though contact work is not yet permitted. For those tested over the past 48 hours, the first batch of results should arrive by 2pm local time tomorrow, after which training can begin.
Elsewhere, the league’s medical advisor Dr Mark Gillett was quoted as saying:
“They’ve made it very clear that the social situation, the public health situation, is not going to change over the next 6-12 months.”
What about the Championship?
The Premier League’s decisions also directly impact those of the Championship.
England’s second-tier has plans to complete their own batch of COVID-19 testing for all 24 clubs before resuming training next Monday.
There is a tentative resumption date of June 20 – where teams would play on five consecutive weekends, midweeks in-between and play-offs from late July onwards.
Championship leaders Leeds and West Brom currently occupy the two automatic promotion places into next season’s top division, while third-placed Fulham hold a four-point advantage over their next play-off rivals.
What about the state of play in Italy?
Confirmation from the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) means Italy’s top-flight will have to wait longer than first hoped.
Clubs selected Saturday, June 13 as their target return date but are expected to wait at least another week before the 2019-20 season can resume.
The country’s prime minister Giuseppe Conte signed off a decree on Sunday which banned “any event and sporting competition of any order and discipline” until June 14.
Meanwhile, the government’s scientific committee continue to discuss when exactly group training sessions can resume ahead of a potential restart to matches sometime next month.
Italy remains the second-worst affected European country for coronavirus-related deaths (32,007), behind just the UK at the time of writing.
However, things are steadily improving across the nation: 451 new cases and 99 deaths today (stats correct to 8.20pm GMT).