The English Premier League is one step closer to returning to action this season.
In a conference call with all 20 top-flight clubs on Monday, the move to resume training in “small groups” on Tuesday was agreed upon by all parties. While all clubs will have to wait for contact training to get approval, it is a step in the right direction for a possible restart to league play.
“Premier League Shareholders today voted unanimously to return to small group training from tomorrow (Tuesday) afternoon — the first step towards restarting the Premier League, when safe to do so,” the league said in a statement.
“Step One of the Return to Training Protocol enables squads to train while maintaining social distancing. Contact training is not yet permitted. Strict medical protocols of the highest standard will ensure everyone returns to training in the safest environment possible.”
“The health and wellbeing of all participants is the Premier League’s priority, and the safe return to training is a step-by-step process. Full consultation will now continue with players, managers, clubs, the PFA (Professional Footballers’ Association) and LMA (League Managers Association) as protocols for full-contact training are developed.”
The Premier League has been on hold since March 9th with a postponement of the season’s schedule coming on April 3rd. Liverpool are well on their way to a first top-flight title since 1990, leading defending champions Manchester City by 25 points.
Pep Guardiola’s men aren’t guaranteed a second place finish with Leicester City just four points behind them. Chelsea, Manchester United, Wolverhampton Wanderers, and Sheffield United round out the top-seven in the league table.
On the opposite end of the table, Norwich City, Aston Villa, and AFC Bournemouth are currently in the relegation zone. Watford and West Ham United sit just atop the bottom three on goal difference while 15th place Brighton & Hove Albion are two points clear of 18th place Bournemouth.
Should the EPL resume play this summer, it will likely see the start of the 2020-21 campaign moved back to give players and staff ample opportunities to refuel and recover for the next season. So far only the German Bundesliga is the only top-flight league out of Europe’s major five divisions to resume play.