Premier League players who do not want to return to training will speak to their captains before deciding whether to go back to work next week.
After two months at home, many players want to go back to work but some think it is too soon to be thinking about playing again when thousands of people are dying every week.
Premier League captains – including Jordan Henderson, Harry Maguire, Cesar Azpilicueta, Mark Noble, and Troy Deeney – held a meeting with the Premier League and medical experts on Wednesday afternoon to talk through the protocols which will be in place to make sure training is as safe as possible.
Premier League clubs could start training again next Tuesday if the proposals are backed by players and managers and approved by the government and Public Health England.
A final decision will be made at the next Premier League shareholders’ meeting on Monday, and resuming training in tightly-controlled circumstances is seen as a first step towards the season restarting in the middle of next month.
The captains who took part in Wednesday’s two-hour meeting will now speak to the players at their clubs about the measures that have been put in place to make their training grounds as safe as possible.
Many players have concerns about their health and safety and the wellbeing of their families, and they have been told that no one will be forced to return to work.
“Some of our players don’t want to come back but the majority will,” one senior executive at a Premier League club said. “They’re going to play again in Germany so there’s no reason why we can’t try to as well.”
The fact that the return of Premier League football is likely to mean the use of 40,000 tests is also controversial for some players, as they will likely be tested at least twice a week, including in the 48 hours before they are due to train.
Another bone of contention is the so-called
consent forms which players have to sign to show that they agree to abide by the new training protocols.
Although they are concerned that this could lead to them signing away some of their legal, insurance and employment rights, they have been told the forms do not supersede any of their club’s obligations to them.
Concerns covered at Wednesday’s meeting also included data which shows BAME groups are more at risk of catching and dying from Covid-19.
Kaveh Solhekol reports on what Premier League footballers can expect to happen when they are permitted to return to training with their clubs
The PFA was represented at the meeting and they are seeking assurances that players who do not return will not have it held against them and will not have their pay frozen or deferred.
Premier League managers were also told that everything is being done to make sure they are not at risk when they are due to return to training next week.
They were told all team and coach meetings will continue to be done by video conference and all data and video recordings of training sessions are to be made available to the Premier League.
All players have agreed to inform their club immediately if they or anyone in their household develops any Covid-19 symptoms.
It is fair to say the majority of players want to go back.
But some players want to know about what will happen to those in the profession who have asthma or other respiratory conditions. They want to know why official data shows that BAME groups are more likely to develop and die from Covid-19.
Brighton vice-captain Glenn Murray told Thursday’s The Football Show players were generally receptive to returning to training – but with concerns over their own vulnerability and those of their loved ones, were more reluctant regarding phase two and three of the return plans – which will include more contact and risk of spreading coronavirus.
He said: “I think most of the players are pretty happy with phase one, obviously there’s a lot of people with different situations out there, people who live with vulnerable people, pregnant wives or girlfriends and it’s been well-documented about the BAME community being at high risk.
“I think it’s a really difficult one to step into phase two, and I think there is some reluctance in certain pockets of players. I think first and foremost, saying players are reluctant to return, I don’t want that to be perceived as a snowflake mentality, it’s more about being worried about the people that we’re going home to. Everyone’s in different situations and has different people at home, with illnesses, pregnancies or children.”