Premier League: doctors question of restart plan’s safety

Premier League doctors don’t appear to be on board with restarting the season just yet.

Medical representatives from all 20 teams wrote to the Premier League’s medical advisor, Mark Gillett, to raise their COVID-19 concerns by listing approximately 100 questions regarding issues that have yet to be addressed, according to The Athletic’s David Ornstein.

News of the concern comes ahead of Friday’s crucial meeting, which is expected to provide a clearer picture of the league’s potential pathway to return. The proposed plan, labeled Project Restart, reportedly targets a return to training for small groups on May 18 and a resumption to the season on June 12.

Ornstein reports that the doctors’ letter, split into 10 subject areas, relays the following primary concerns:

  • Approving guidelines that still carry risk of death
  • Liability, insurance, and testing for players, staff, and their families
  • Possible transmission via sweat and goalkeeper gloves
  • Suspicions that some clubs are already ignoring guidelines
  • Increased risk for black, Asian, and minority ethnic groups
  • Ability of emergency services to attend training ground incidents

Premier League doctors have reportedly called for the implementation of “a centralized education and consent process.” They also raised concerns over the impact that a condensed schedule will have on players, noting some might be at risk of developing infections due to “lowered immunity” from training and possibly playing two matches per week.

Montpellier midfielder Junior Sambia – who was provisionally put into an artificial coma last month after contracting COVID-19 – was cited as an example that the disease doesn’t only target the elderly. Sambia has since awoken and was set to leave the hospital as of Saturday.

Paulo Dybala was also mentioned in a section about the difficulties of testing and managing players when they return to training, as the Juventus star tested positive on four occasions over a six-week period.

It was reported last week that clubs will hold a vote on May 8 to decide if and how the Premier League season should continue. Teams were apparently notified that playing in neutral venues will be essential to completing the campaign.

With matches almost certainly to be played behind closed doors, one of the primary objectives of playing at neutral venues is to limit the chances of supporters congregating outside stadiums.

Up to 10 stadiums could reportedly be used to stage games, and the Premier League would need to ensure the availability of up to 40,000 COVID-19 tests for players and staff.

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