No Positives In Latest Round Of Premier League COVID-19 Tests

In this file photo taken on January 02, 2017 Fans shield their eyes from the Sun during the English Premier League football match between Everton and Southampton at Goodison Park in Liverpool, north west England. Paul ELLIS / AFP
In this file photo taken on January 02, 2017 Fans shield their eyes from the Sun during the English Premier League football match between Everton and Southampton at Goodison Park in Liverpool, north-west England. Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

 

The Premier League’s plan to restart on June 17 received a fresh boost Saturday after the latest round of coronavirus tests produced no new positive cases in English football’s top flight.

A total of 1,195 players and club staff were tested in the sixth edition of screening, which took place on Thursday and Friday.

“The Premier League can confirm that on Thursday 4 June and Friday 5 June, 1,195 players and club staff were tested for COVID-19. Of these, zero have tested positive,” the league said in a statement.

Saturday’s announcement means there have been a mere 13 positives from an overall 6,274 tests carried out on Premier League players and club staff.

Testing will continue on a twice-weekly basis as officials look to resume a season that was suspended in March because of the pandemic.

Man Utd Extend Ighalo’s Loan Deal Until January 2021

A file photo of Odion Ighalo.

 

Manchester United extended Odion Ighalo’s loan spell until January 2021 on Monday to ensure the Nigerian striker will be able to finish the 2019/20 season with the Premier League club.

Ighalo’s initial loan deal from Shanghai Shenhua expired at the end of May, but the 30-year-old has been rewarded for an impressive return of four goals in eight appearances for United before football was shut down by the coronavirus pandemic in March.

“Manchester United have reached agreement with Shanghai Greenland Shenhua to extend the loan deal for Odion Ighalo,” United said in a statement.

“He will now remain with the Reds until 31 January 2021, enabling him to build on an impressive start to life with the club he supported as a boy.”

Ighalo could prove an important addition to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s squad ahead of a packed schedule once games get back underway later this month.

READ ALSO: Philippines Capital Reopens Despite Rise In COVID-19 Cases

The Premier League is due to return on June 17 and United could face up to 12 matches in little over a month should they also progress in the FA Cup.

Solskjaer’s men are also due to resume their Europa League campaign in August.

“They (Shanghai) have been great towards us, allowing him to play for his dream club,” said Solskjaer last week.

“It’s been a dream for him and hopefully he can finish what he started and win a trophy with us.”

AFP

No Positives From Latest Premier League COVID-19 Tests

In this file photo taken on August 12, 2017 The Premier league trophy sits beside the pitch ahead of the English Premier League football match between Brighton and Hove Albion and Manchester City at the American Express Community Stadium in Brighton. CHRIS J RATCLIFFE / AFP
In this file photo taken on August 12, 2017 The Premier league trophy sits beside the pitch ahead of the English Premier League football match between Brighton and Hove Albion and Manchester City at the American Express Community Stadium in Brighton. CHRIS J RATCLIFFE / AFP

 

There have been no positive findings from the latest round of coronavirus testing carried out in the Premier League, the English top-flight announced on Saturday.

The fourth round of screening saw a total of 1,130 players and club staff tested, with the lack of any new cases bolstering the Premier League’s plan to resume the season on June 17.

“The Premier League can today confirm that on Thursday 28 May and Friday 29 May, 1,130 players and club staff were tested for COVID-19,” said a statement.

“Of these, zero have tested positive.”

That means there have been just 12 positive cases from a combined total of 3,882 tests since Premier League players and club staff started being examined earlier this month.

English Premier League To Return On June 17

(Files) Everton’s Brazilian striker Richarlison (3rd L) celebrates after scoring their second goal during the English Premier League football match between Everton and Crystal Palace at Goodison Park in Liverpool, north west England on February 8, 2020. Everton won the game 3-1. Oli SCARFF / AFP.

 

The Premier League season is set to restart on June 17, three months after it was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, it was widely reported on Thursday.

No matches have been played in the English top-flight since Leicester’s 4-0 win over Aston Villa on March 9, with Liverpool just two wins away from securing the title.

The BBC reported that the first two matches would be Aston Villa v Sheffield United and Manchester City v Arsenal. Those matches are the two games in hand.

A full fixture list would then be played on the weekend of June 19-21, the reports said, with matches to be played behind closed doors.

The Premier League suspended all fixtures in March after Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta and Chelsea winger Callum Hudson-Odoi tested positive for COVID-19.

There are still 92 matches to play and although Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool appear certain to be crowned champions, the relegation and European qualification still need to be resolved.

– Training return –

Top-flight clubs voted unanimously on Wednesday to return to contact training and were meeting again on Thursday to discuss issues including the restart date and the rebate to broadcasters.

It is predicted that clubs face repaying up to £340 million ($419 million) to broadcasters.

So far, just 12 people have tested positive for coronavirus after 2,752 tests across the Premier League.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: Do Not Cut Health Spending During Downturn, WHO Warns

Germany’s Bundesliga resumed earlier this month and La Liga in Spain hopes to return from June 11, while a crucial summit between Italian football officials and the country’s sports minister will be held later on Thursday.

Liverpool are 25 points clear at the top of the table while Bournemouth, Aston Villa and Norwich City are in the relegation places.

The leaders could clinch the title with victory in their first game back should second-placed Manchester City lose to Arsenal.

Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho spoke this week of his desperation to get playing again after seeing football resume elsewhere.

“Honestly, since the moment the Bundesliga started, the Portuguese league and Spanish league announced a date to start, I think it is the most difficult moment for us, because we want to play,” he told Sky Sports.

Some players have voiced fears over their safety and that of their families due to the virus.

Watford captain Troy Deeney has revealed that people have told him they want his baby son to contract coronavirus after he chose not to return to training.

Deeney has been absent from training since Watford and other Premier League clubs returned to non-contact sessions last week.

“I saw some comments in regards to my son, people saying: ‘I hope your son gets corona’,” Deeney told CNN Sport.

“That’s the hard part for me. If you respond to that, people then go: ‘Ah, we’ve got him’ and they keep doing it.”

Deeney is understood to be due to resume training next week.

AFP

Premier League Clubs Vote To Resume Contact Training

 

 

Premier League clubs voted unanimously on Wednesday to resume contact training as the English top-flight took a significant step towards a possible restart in June.

The Premier League was put on hold in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, with Liverpool agonisingly close to the title.

Clubs returned to training in small and socially distanced groups last week but they have now moved to stage two of the “return to training protocol”.

“Premier League shareholders today voted unanimously to resume contact training, marking another step towards restarting the Premier League season, when safe to do so,” the league said in a statement.

“Squads are now able to train as a group and engage in tackling while minimising any unnecessary close contact.”

It added: “Discussions are ongoing as work continues towards resuming the season, when conditions allow.”

The small number of positive tests from the first two rounds of testing at Premier League clubs has raised hopes of a return next month.

READ ALSO: Mourinho Does Not Expect To See ‘Crazy’ Transfers After COVID-19

Eight cases of coronavirus among players and staff have been detected from 1,744 tests in the Premier League.

In the second-tier Championship, just two positive tests were registered from 1,014 tests.

A targeted return date of June 12 was described by Premier League chief executive Richard Masters last week as a “staging post”.

Players and coaches have argued they will need until at least the end of June to reduce the risk of injuries after such a long lay-off.

Some players have voiced fears over their safety and that of their families due to the virus.

Watford captain Troy Deeney has not returned to training after three positive cases were registered by the Hornets over concerns he could spread the virus to his five-month-old son.

French World Cup winner N’Golo Kante has also been given permission by Chelsea to train at home.

Germany’s Bundesliga has already managed to complete two rounds of fixtures since returning behind closed doors and there has been little player opposition to La Liga’s plans to return in Spain from June 11.

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson said playing at an empty Anfield and winning the Premier League title with no fans present would be “pretty strange”.

Liverpool were 25 points clear of 2019 champions Manchester City when the league was shut down, on the verge of being crowned English champions for the first time in 30 years.

“Of course it would feel different because if you win any trophy and receive it without any fans there, it would be pretty strange,” he told the BBC.

“We still have work to do and we still need to perform at a high level right the way until the season finishes because we want to finish as strongly as we can to make sure it is a full season,” he added.

AFP

Mourinho Does Not Expect To See ‘Crazy’ Transfers After COVID-19

(Files) Tottenham Hotspur’s Portuguese head coach Jose Mourinho takes a team training session at Tottenham Hotspur’s Enfield Training Centre, in north London on November 25, 2019, ahead of their UEFA Champions League Group B football match against Olympiakos. Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP

 

Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho has warned that the transfer market will look drastically different due to the coronavirus fallout, saying football will not be ready for “crazy numbers”.

Spurs bought Steven Bergwijn for £27 million ($33 million) from PSV in January, while also breaking their club record to sign Tanguy Ndombele for a reported £54 million last year.

But Mourinho believes the Premier League and other leagues around the world will need a different approach to cope with the financial impact of COVID-19.

“It is normal you are going to have a different market,” the 57-year-old told Sky Sports. “I don’t see the world, and especially the football world, ready for some crazy numbers we are used to having and some crazy investments that sometimes some clubs and some leagues are used to doing.

“But my first question after that is: ‘When will the transfer window be?’ Because I don’t think it will be July-August any more, it will obviously have to go further than that.

“If you ask me what I want in my club, I would like my club to be what I know it is going to be: sensible, balanced, not going to spend rivers of money, and we are trying to respect the situation, not just of football but of the world and society overall.”

READ ALSO: Premier League Clubs Vote To Resume Contact Training 

The Premier League is yet to set a date for a return and players have not resumed full-contact training.

Top-flight clubs are expected to approve phase two of training on Wednesday as they inch closer to a restart after the postponement of the Premier League in March.

The Bundesliga has already resumed and Mourinho is itching to get playing again.

“Honestly, since the moment Bundesliga started, the Portuguese league and Spanish league announced a date to start, I think it is the most difficult moment for us, because we want to play,” he said.

“It is hard to see other countries playing football and we don’t do it.”

AFP

Premier League To Vote On Return Of Contact Training

 

Premier League clubs will vote on proposals for a return to contact training on Wednesday as the English top-flight seeks to take another step closer to resuming the season next month.

New UK government guidelines issued on Sunday allow for the return of “close contact” training, including tackling, to help players step up their match fitness ahead of a return to competitive action.

“This type of training would start with smaller ‘clusters’ of 2-3 athletes and eventually progress to larger groups of 4-12 athletes, and ultimately full team training,” added the government advice.

Premier League clubs returned to training in small and socially distanced groups last week.

Players and managers are to be consulted in a meeting on Tuesday before the proposals are put to a vote of the 20 clubs.

Results of the latest round of COVID-19 testing, which is taking place on Monday and Tuesday, will also be published on Wednesday.

The small number of positive tests from the first two rounds of testing at Premier League clubs has raised hopes of a return in June.

READ ALSO: Italy Proposes 60,000 Volunteers For Post-virus Vigilance

Eight cases of coronavirus among players and staff have been detected from 1,744 tests in the Premier League.

In the Championship, just two positive tests were registered from 1,014 tests.

How to proceed in the event of a positive test once contact training has restarted is one of the topics that will be discussed by clubs later this week.

A targeted return date of June 12 was described by Premier League chief executive Richard Masters last week as a “staging post”.

Players and coaches have argued they will need until at least the end of June to mitigate the risk of a spate of injuries after such a long layoff.

There has been no action in the Premier League since March 9.

However, the biggest hurdle to a return remains players’ fears over their safety and that of their families due to the virus.

Watford captain Troy Deeney has not returned to training after three positive cases were registered by the Hornets over concerns he could spread the virus to his five-month-old son.

French World Cup winner N’Golo Kante has also been given permission by Chelsea to train at home.

Germany’s Bundesliga has already managed to complete two rounds of fixtures since returning behind closed doors and there has been little player opposition to La Liga’s plans to return in Spain from June 11.

“With what’s happened in Germany, I’ve got no doubt the vote will go ahead and the clubs will vote to try to get phase two going,” former Liverpool and England midfielder Jamie Redknapp told Sky Sports.

“I also think there’ll be a situation where more players will opt out, which is their prerogative, but with the success in Germany — it’s not been great, it’s not the product we really like, with no fans there, but at least it’s football — I’ll be very surprised if it doesn’t go ahead.”

AFP

Premier League Says Two More People Test Positive For COVID-19

 

England’s Premier League on Saturday said that two more individuals from two different clubs have tested positive for coronavirus, just three weeks from a proposed restart of the season.

In all, 996 players and club staff were tested over three days last week for COVID-19.

“Of these, two have tested positive from two clubs,” said an EPL statement.

“Players or club staff who have tested positive will now self-isolate for a period of seven days.”

In previous tests on May 17 and 18, a total of 748 individuals were tested with six testing positive from three clubs.

“The six … are still within their seven-day self-isolation period” and did not feature in the recent round of testing.

“The Premier League is providing this aggregated information for the purposes of competition integrity and transparency,” said the statement.

READ ALSO: Pandemic Gives Dubai Chance To Put Tech To Test

“No specific details as to clubs or individuals will be provided by the League and results will be made public after each round of testing.”

On Friday, Premier League chief executive Richard Masters said he was confident the top-flight season would resume in mid-June.

Clubs returned to socially distanced training in small groups this week and the league hope to begin playing the remaining 92 matches on June 12 or 19.

Amongst the six who had already tested positive were Watford defender Adrian Mariappa as well as two members of the club’s staff.

Watford manager Nigel Pearson also revealed two more of his squad are in self-isolation after members of their family tested positive for the virus.

AFP

Premier League Clubs Detect Six Positive COVID-19 Cases

 

Six positive cases for coronavirus have been detected at three Premier League clubs after players and staff were tested ahead of a return to training, England’s top-flight said on Tuesday.

“The Premier League can today confirm that, on Sunday 17 May and Monday 18 May, 748 players and club staff were tested for COVID-19,” the league said in a statement.

“Of these, six have tested positive from three clubs.”

No details were released over which individuals or clubs are affected.

“Players or club staff who have tested positive will now self-isolate for a period of seven days,” added the league’s statement.

Premier League clubs began returning to training in small groups on Tuesday after protocols on safety measures were signed off on Monday.

The number of positive cases represents just 0.8 per cent of those tested and is consistent with similar widespread testing conducted by other major leagues hoping to complete the season.

Germany’s top two divisions registered 10 positive cases out of 1,724 tests two weeks ago ahead of their return to action last weekend.

Five players from Spain’s top two divisions tested positive last week before La Liga’s return to group training.

Premier League clubs are aiming for a return to action by the middle of next month despite concerns from some players over their welfare.

Watford captain Troy Deeney has said he will not return to training this week due to fears he could pass the virus on to his five-month-old son.

British Government Eyes Mid-June Premier League Return

File photo of an empty stadium.  PHOTO: Adrian DENNIS / AFP

 

Britain’s Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden is hopeful the Premier League can resume by mid-June despite concerns raised by players and coaches over the need for an extended period of training before matches restart.

Premier League clubs are meeting on Monday to sign off on protocols that will allow a return to training this week, whilst maintaining social distancing guidelines.

The last top-flight match in England was on March 9 and Newcastle manager Steve Bruce said on Sunday his players could “fall down like a pack of cards” with injuries if matches return before the end of June.

England international Raheem Sterling also expressed his concern at a quick turnaround between a resumption of training and playing matches.

The Premier League have reportedly been aiming for a return on June 12.

Dowden insisted public safety remained the priority, but is also hoping a restart is only around a month away.

“I had some very constructive discussions on Thursday with the FA, the EFL (English Football League) and the Premier League,” Dowden told Sky News on Monday.

“We are working hard with them to try and get it back, aiming for mid-June, but the number one test is public safety.

“They, like a lot of other sports we’re looking at returning behind closed doors, have met with Public Health England several times to look at the safety.

“If we can sort that out then we will look to resume by mid-June. We’re making good progress.”

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told parliament last week that the return of sport on TV would “provide a much-needed boost to national morale”.

The resumption of Germany’s Bundesliga over the weekend has raised expectations that the Premier League can follow suit despite the drastically different scale of the health crisis in both countries.

In the UK, the government’s official rolling tally of fatalities is nearing 35,000 compared to just under 8,000 in Germany.

Nevertheless, the Bundesliga is proving a test case for the Premier League’s ‘Project Restart’.

English clubs who resisted a proposal for the remaining 92 matches of the campaign to be played at neutral venues will have been heartened that there were no significant problems with supporters turning up near stadiums in Germany for the restart.

If the protocols are passed in Monday’s meeting, Premier League players can return to non-contact training later in the week.

However, former Chelsea doctor Eva Carneiro warned of the risks being taken with players’ health without yet knowing the consequences COVID-19 could have on athletes.

“We simply do not know how the virus affects athletes,” said Dr. Carneiro.

“From my experience, football does not have a culture of embracing and observing medical governance which, now more than ever, is required to ensure compliance.

“Not only in the short-term, but in the medium and long term, when fatigue with the new protocols sets in.”

AFP

Premier League Players Face Strict New Training Protocols

 

Premier League players are set to be subjected to a strict testing regime if they are to return to training amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to British media reports.

The BBC said Tuesday it had seen a copy of official protocols sent to all 20 Premier League clubs detailing the need for corner-flags, balls, cones, goalposts and even playing surfaces to be disinfected after each training session.

Other measures in the guidance include twice-weekly testing, and a daily pre-training questionnaire and temperature check.

Should a player test positive, with or without symptoms, they will be forced to self-isolate for seven days.

All players will have to travel to a training ground individually and avoid public transport. Once there they will not be allowed to gather in communal areas and won’t be fed on the premises.

Tackling and contact will reportedly be banned for the first phase of team training.

Meanwhile, club medical staff must wear personal protection equipment when treating the players.

A meeting involving players, the Professional Footballers’ Association and the British government over safety and health issues surrounding a possible restart of the game is set to take place on Wednesday.

PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor, said his members would be open to playing again provided “everything that can be done is being done” to assure their safety.

READ ALSO: New Resolution On Pandemic Truce Presented To UN Security Council

“We’ve got to try it, see if we can do it and see if we can return to some form of activity,” Taylor told the Mirror.

“But it’s also being as careful and having as many assurances as possible that it’s achievable.”

However, England internationals Raheem Sterling and Danny Rose are the two latest high-profile players to raise their concerns over a return to contact sport when the rest of society is being advised to follow social-distancing guidelines.

– ‘Lives at risk’ –

“The moment we do go back it just needs to be a moment where it’s not just for footballing reasons, it’s safe for not just us footballers but the whole medical staff, referees,” Sterling told his YouTube channel.

Meanwhile Rose, on loan at Newcastle from Tottenham, told an Instagram live: “People’s lives are at risk.

“Football shouldn’t even be spoken about coming back until the numbers have dropped massively.”

A further complication for Project Restart is where any matches would be played, with the clubs opposed to a proposal for a limited number of neutral venues to be used.

The UK’s national football policing lead previously stated resuming matches on a home-and-away basis would “present challenges” to the emergency services.

But Mark Roberts said on Tuesday that police, government and football authorities were working together on a plan “which minimises any risks to public safety and unnecessary pressure on public services, but facilitates a sensible restart to the season.”

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has come out against the idea of playing matches in the capital at this stage, with the city having been particularly badly hit by the pandemic.

Five of the 20 Premier League sides are based in London.

“With the country still in the grips of this crisis, and hundreds of people dying every day, he believes that it is too early to be discussing the resumption of the Premier League and top-flight sport in the capital,” Khan’s spokesperson told the Evening Standard.

Premier League clubs face having to pay a huge refund to broadcasters even if they manage to complete the virus-disrupted season behind closed doors.

Broadcasters would be reimbursed for matches not being played as scheduled and the lack of atmosphere in empty stadiums is also a factor.

The BBC reported the bill could be as high as £340 million ($420 million) and would surge to £760 million if the season cannot be completed.

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters has previously warned of a £1 billion loss once the absence of gate receipts is taken into account.

New government guidelines have paved the way for elite sport to return behind closed doors in England from June 1.

Britain has been one of the worst hit by the global pandemic, with the UK government officially recording more than 32,000 deaths from COVID-19.

AFP

English Premier League To Restart In June

 In this file photo taken on January 02, 2017 Fans shield their eyes from the Sun during the English Premier League football match between Everton and Southampton at Goodison Park in Liverpool, north west England. Paul ELLIS / AFP
In this file photo taken on January 02, 2017 Fans shield their eyes from the Sun during the English Premier League football match between Everton and Southampton at Goodison Park in Liverpool, northwest England. Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Premier League clubs received a boost to their hopes of completing the season on Monday as the government published a “roadmap” that could see the return of elite sport in England from June 1.

As the 20 English top-flight clubs met for further talks on “Project Restart”, ministers announced plans to ease the coronavirus lockdown.

Under step two of that process, which cannot begin any earlier than June 1, sporting events would be allowed “to take place behind closed doors for broadcast, while avoiding the risk of large-scale social contact”.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he believed the return of sport on TV would “provide a much-needed boost to national morale.”

Supporters face a long wait to be allowed to attend matches, though, with the latest guidelines recognising a return to sport in front of a crowd “may only be fully possible significantly later depending on the reduction in numbers of infections”.

Premier League clubs had been planning for a return to action no earlier than the week beginning June 8.

Before the resumption of matches can be considered, protocols need to be agreed on how to return to group training safely and on how the Premier League would deal with positive tests.

Brighton confirmed on Sunday that a third member of their squad had tested positive.

Cases have also been found in squads in Germany, where the Bundesliga is due to restart this weekend, as well as Italy, Spain and Portugal in recent days.

“We have protocols created and reviewed, we have a testing company appointed, but the important consultation with players and managers is the next step,” said Premier League CEO Richard Masters.

“No decisions will be made until after we have talked to players and managers and those meetings are scheduled for later this week.”

‘We are just people too’

Players have voiced their concerns at the prospect of being rushed back into training and, eventually, into playing a contact sport at a time when the rest of the public remain encouraged to abide by social-distancing guidelines.

The UK has been one of the worst-hit countries in the global pandemic, with the government officially recording nearly 32,000 deaths of people who had tested positive for COVID-19.

“We are just people too,” tweeted Norwich midfielder Todd Cantwell on Sunday.

There is also disagreement over where the remaining 92 matches of the season would be played.

League chiefs believed they would only get the government’s green light to restart if matches were held at a limited number of neutral venues to reduce the medical, police, security and broadcast personnel required.

A number of clubs near the bottom of the table have spoken openly of their opposition to the plan as they believe it would increase the risk of being relegated.

“With all these compromises and health risks we are asked to finish a competition that bears no resemblance to the one we started,” Watford’s chairman and chief executive Scott Duxbury told the club’s website.

Those higher up the table are also concerned at the prospect of having to reimburse sponsors who have paid for naming rights on their stadiums.

“I think everybody would prefer to play home and away if at all possible. And I think it’s clear to see that some clubs feel more strongly about that than others,” added Masters.

“We are in contact with the authorities and listening to that advice while also representing club views in those discussions.”

The prospect of appeasing the clubs struggling at the bottom by ruling out relegation this season also appears over after the English Football Association rejected that idea and told the Premier League that final standings must be based on “sporting merit” if no more games can be played.

Masters admitted the Premier League had for the first time held discussions on how the league would be decided if matches cannot restart, but said no definitive formula had been approved.

“It was the first time we discussed curtailment – it’s still our aim to finish the season obviously but it’s important to discuss all the options with our clubs,” he said.

“No conclusions were reached on any other models. Those are future conversations we may need to have.”

AFP