Premier League's 'Project Restart' moves a step closer as Government issue fresh training advice

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The Premier League’s ‘Project Restart’ has moved a step closer after the Government published 'stage two' of its guidance which enables competitive and close-contact training.

Officials have stressed however that individual sports must review whether they have the ‘appropriate carefully controlled medical conditions in place before they can proceed’.

All football was suspended in mid-March following the coronavirus pandemic with players previously training alone at home until last week when small group, non-contact, training was given the green light.

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The Newcastle squad returned to the training ground in small groups last Tuesday.

Newcastle United returned to training last week.Newcastle United returned to training last week.
Newcastle United returned to training last week. | JPIMedia Resell

It is hoped the Premier League will be able to resume towards the end of next month once players have had four-five weeks of training to boost their fitness following the 10-week lay-off.

The new guidance, published in conjunction with public health officials and sports medical officers, allows for organised, close-contact training, under carefully controlled medical conditions.

The advice is geared towards establishing the conditions for stage three, which is expected to be achieved next month with a resumption of sports, including Premier League matches.

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The guidance makes it clear that the close contact training for elite athletes can include close quarters coaching and tackling.

Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston said: "This new guidance marks the latest phase of a carefully phased return to training process for elite athletes, designed to limit the risk of injury and protect the health and safety of all involved.

"We are absolutely clear that individual sports must review whether they have the appropriate carefully controlled medical conditions in place before they can proceed, and secure the confidence of athletes, coaches and support staff.

"Given the wide ranging input we have received from medical experts, we believe these pragmatic measures should provide further reassurance that a safe, competitive training environment can be delivered, as we work towards a restart of professional sport behind closed doors when it is safe to do so."

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It stressed that the decision to implement the latest guidelines will be the responsibility of the respective sports bodies and clubs.

The current social-distancing rules will continue to apply during travel to training, equipment-sharing will be avoided where possible, and communal areas will mostly be expected to remain closed.