Premier League captains pushing back against ‘Project Restart’ over health concerns

The date for the Premier League’s ‘Project Restart’ has been put back at least another week to 19 June, after an intense day of discussion with club captains and coaching staff, that has seen the players demand more reassurances in order to go back.

While the managers are willing to go back so long as they get four weeks’ preparation time – effectively eliminating the 12 June target – the captains were not so impressed, and remain concerned about potential health issues.

The Premier League will on Thursday continue talks with the Football Association, EFL and government in order to smooth issues ahead of yet another “crunch meeting” on Monday, where Project Restart could be voted on.

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There has been progress with clubs due to the last videoconference, and the governing body’s announcement on Monday that the season has to be decided on “sporting merit”.

While that has removed some obstacles and effectively ensured the majority of clubs will agree to come back even if it is at neutral grounds, the main issue is now the players.

They were on Thursday set to go through the first coronavirus tests for ‘Project Restart’, ahead of a return to training on Tuesday. While all are happy to report back – and virtually all captains do want to play – that is still just ‘phase one’ of the three-step plan.

The captains want much more details on the next step, which involves full group training, after a two-hour videoconference that also involved managers, Premier League medical officer Mark Gillett and government medical expert Dr Jonathan Van-Tam.

The primary concerns are contact on training, as well as the risk to family members, and players with conditions like asthma.

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