EPL clubs told to maintain social distancing rules

Burnley’s Josh Brownhill spraying water on Ashley Westwood during a drinks break, one of the protocols for the Premier League restart.
Burnley’s Josh Brownhill spraying water on Ashley Westwood during a drinks break, one of the protocols for the Premier League restart. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • The Premier League has contacted all 20 clubs in England's top flight regarding their players' failure to adhere to social distancing guidelines during water breaks and goal celebrations, The Daily Telegraph newspaper reported on Friday.

Following informal conversations between the league and government officials, the Premier League has written to clubs reminding them of their responsibilities to encourage players to keep unnecessary contact to a minimum, the publication said.

The drinks break was introduced along with a number of other guidelines, as part of protocols for the league to return following its three-month suspension due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

While the break was primarily designed for the Premier League to disinfect balls, goal posts and corner flags and for players to take in fluids, it has become more of a tactical timeout, with managers seen barking instructions at groups of players.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola had previously said he did not want these breaks continuing next season.

"I think we did it because of the lack of preparation for all of the teams, with just three weeks before the start of the competition and maybe for the weather conditions," he said.

"The managers use it to talk to players, of course."

West Ham boss David Moyes was another to voice his opposition against the procedures.

He said: "I understood why they were introduced, but I thought it should've been at the referee's discretion in games - if the temperature were up in the 70s or the 80s (Fahrenheit) and they felt that players needed a drink."

The Telegraph report said with lockdown measures in England easing and swimming pools and gyms set to reopen, there is a concern that the lack of social distancing in Premier League games will set a wrong example for the public.

In the league's 12th and latest round of testing, between June 29 and July 5, 1,973 players and club staff were tested for Covid-19 with not a single positive case.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 13, 2020, with the headline 'EPL clubs told to maintain social distancing rules'. Print Edition | Subscribe