Football: Premier League clubs agree health protocols; La Liga threatens errant players

The Premier League's Project Restart kicks off next Wednesday with the first two of the 92 outstanding fixtures. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (REUTERS, AFP) - All 20 Premier League clubs have approved a range of match-day protocols for next week's resumption of action after a three-month stoppage caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The latest shareholders meeting on Thursday (June 11) discussed the details of medical and operational measures, including how many backroom staff will be allowed to attend away games.

According to media reports, clubs will also respect a minute's silence for those who have died during the pandemic and kits will include a heart-shaped badge in honour of NHS and front-line staff during the crisis.

The Premier League's Project Restart kicks off next Wednesday with the first two of the 92 outstanding fixtures. Manchester City will host Arsenal and Aston Villa welcome Sheffield United.

All the remaining games will be played without fans and a strict limit of 300 people - including broadcast staff, written media, commentators, doping officials and scouts - will be allowed in stadiums on match days.

Stadiums will be split into red, amber and green zones with the red zone to include 20 players, 12 coaching and medical staff and a further five "essential staff".

Other measures include deep cleaning of corner flags, goalposts, substitution boards and match balls.

The measures are a requirement of the government's green light for a return of competitive sport.

Meanwhile, the president of Spain's La Liga says players could be forced to go into quarantine as the season restarts after its coronavirus-induced suspension, following reports that Barcelona's Nelson Semedo had breached strict health protocol.

Barcelona said on Thursday that Portuguese defender Semedo "did not train as per protocol established by La Liga".

That was after reports emerged in Spanish media that he had attended a gathering of more than 20 people in Castelldefels, a beach resort just outside the Catalan capital, going against the country's strict regulations as it eases out of lockdown.

Four Sevilla players were recently photographed attending a barbecue and the incidents raise the issue of whether teams should go into quarantine between matches to reduce any risk of a new raft of coronavirus infections.

"I am aware that in all cases they have been removed at least from training and I am aware that at some clubs they have also taken disciplinary measures," La Liga president Javier Tebas told international media on Thursday when asked about the breaches.

"But if it continues we will be forced to do something that we said we were not going to do, which is apply mandatory quarantining.

"Hopefully we don't have to do this, but if players keep having barbecues and parties, we will have to consider putting in quarantine policies."

Sevilla and Betis are due to face off later Thursday in the first La Liga fixture since the season was suspended in mid-March.

Barcelona, who top the table by two points from Real Madrid, return to action on Saturday against Mallorca.

Spain has been one of the worst hit countries in the world during the pandemic, with over 27,000 recorded deaths.

The guidelines put in place by La Liga for matches allow only around 270 people inside venues.

All players are tested for the virus before games and will arrive wearing masks and gloves and have their temperatures checked before entering the stadium.

"It's a really important day, we are in front of fans all over the world again. But I will be most satisfied when the competition is completed," added Tebas, who also confirmed that La Liga's intention is for next season to start on September 12.

Meanwhile, the summer transfer window in Spain is likely to run from late July to early October.

"I believe there will be consensus, at least among the big leagues, for it to end a few weeks before the Champions League group phase begins, which will be in October this year, and I think it will open once the domestic competitions are finished at the end of July," he said.

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