The 20 Premier League clubs have voted unanimously in favour of resuming contact training as English football takes a step closer to resuming following the coronavirus pandemic.
The top-flight has been out of action since March 9 due to COVID-19, of which there have been in excess of 265,000 confirmed cases and more than 37,000 deaths with the virus in the UK alone at time of writing.
But following the return of Premier League clubs to training, last week, albeit in small groups without contact between players, the decision has been made today to take the next step in the league’s return.
A statement by the Premier League read:
“Premier League Shareholders today voted unanimously to resume contact training, marking another step towards restarting the Premier League season, when safe to do so.
“Squads are now able to train as a group and engage in tackling while minimising any unnecessary close contact.
“The Premier League’s priority is the health and wellbeing of all participants.
“Strict medical protocols are in place to ensure the training ground is the safest environment possible and players and staff will continue to be tested for COVID-19 twice a week.
“Stage Two of the Return to Training protocol has been agreed following consultation with clubs, players, managers, the PFA, LMA and the Government.”
The plans, dubbed ‘Project Restart’, hope to see a return to action by mid-June, with the German Bundesliga having resumed on May 16 and the Spanish La Liga aiming to continue by June 11.
Everton players and staff returned to Finch Farm for the first time last Wednesday, May 20, with both Seamus Coleman and Davide Ancelotti telling of how safe they have felt since.
Elsewhere, Championship clubs also restarted training earlier this week, while the future of League One remains unknown.
The remainder of the League Two campaign has been curtailed, as has all non-league divisions below it.