Premier League doctors express concerns over Project Restart ahead of Monday meeting

May 06, 2020

Four Premier League club doctors have expressed reservations about the Project Restart proposal, ahead of Monday's crucial meeting between shareholders.

The Premier League presented its proposals, including protocols for players and staff returning to training, to all 20 clubs last week and asked doctors for any concerns and feedback.

Four doctors have since sent in questions which will be answered at the league's next shareholders meeting on Monday, a day after the UK government gives an update on lockdown restrictions.

The proposals have been drafted by Premier League medical advisor Dr Mark Gillett, following close consultation with other European leagues including La Liga in Spain and Bundesliga in Germany and includes a plan to test players twice a week.

Testing will only be done on the understanding it does not compromise the testing of key workers during the coronavirus pandemic and will be paid for by the Premier League and privately sourced, so it does not take any resources from public health needs.

Sky Sports News has been told a number of club doctors were involved in drafting the plan with Dr Gillett, and representatives from all 20 clubs discussed draft medical protocols during a conference call on April 25.

The issue of when football can safely resume has divided the opinion of the game's most senior medical officers.

Dr Michel D'Hooghe, chairman of FIFA's medical committee, told Sky Sports News last week: "The world is not ready for competitive football. I hope this can change very quickly. Today you need more patience."

D'Hooghe said the present situation was the most "dramatic" since the Second World War and does not personally want football to resume until at least September 1.

Professor Tim Meyer, chairman of UEFA's medical committee, said: "All football organisations which are planning the restart of their competitions will produce comprehensive dictating sanitary and operational conditions ensuring that the health of those involved in the games is protected and the integrity of public policy is preserved.

"Under these conditions and in full respect of local legislation, it is definitely possible to plan the restart of the competitions suspended during the 2019/20 season."

Premier League clubs remain committed to finishing the 2019/20 season, but this will only be possible if 8-10 neutral venues are used to play the remaining fixtures.

That is considered the most appropriate number of venues that will be granted safety certificates (Sports Grounds Safety Authority) and police approval.

Project Restart: Key PL meeting moved to Monday

Premier League shareholders had planned to meet on Friday after the government update but will now take time to understand the Prime Minister's latest advisory on lockdown and social distancing ahead of their meeting on Monday.

The new date will give the Premier League and its clubs time to consider government plans more fully. Clubs remain hopeful they will be able to begin training in the third week in May, ahead of a return to match action potentially in the middle of June.

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Around Europe: 'Project Restart' or season over?

With football suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, what is the current situation around Europe's top leagues?

Here, we take a look at what is happening in the various English and Scottish divisions, as well as the state of play in Spain, Germany, Italy, France, the Netherlands, Belgium and Portugal.

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