Glenn Murray condemns Premier League face mask guidelines as ‘farcical’ | Football

Glenn Murray has described the Premier League’s proposal for players to cover their faces by wearing snoods or masks during training as “farcical” and has questioned whether players should adopt such measures as the top flight targets a return to group sessions. A seven-page document details the suggested protocols, which are part of Project Restart, the league’s plan to resume the interrupted season, and will be discussed by club executives during a conference call on Friday.

The Brighton striker questioned whether the protocols, which range from cones and corner flags being disinfected before and after use by staff wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) to cars being parked three spaces apart, were sensible or realistic. Players would also have to pass a Covid-19 antigen test in the 48 hours before group training.

The proposals have been drafted by the Premier League director of football, Richard Garlick. Brighton are among the teams to have had players working alone at training but any return to group sessions requires the green light from the government.

“We have to look at the Premier League as the global brand that it is and the reason it is that big is because of the quality of play and the quality of players that are in it and to be hindering ourselves with certain things like face masks and things, it is going to be off-putting, it is not going to be natural and people are going to be ripping them off in the middle of training,” Murray said.

“I think it is quite farcical. I understand why people are desperate to get football on – I am one of those people – but it’s got to be done in a sensible way, and at the right time, in a way that keeps not only the players and staff safe but there is so much that goes into a football game. There are going to be ambulances at training and at games: is it fair to take that [resource] from the NHS? It’s not as if it’s just two squads facing each other. There’s a lot more input to it and it puts a lot more people at risk. It’s going to be very hard to mark players at a corner if there are social distancing measures in place.”

Murray admitted players are worried about returning to action too soon and, in doing so, endangering their families. He also dismissed the feasibility of playing matches at neutral venues, a suggestion welcomed by the national policing unit. Uefa is also considering staging remaining Champions League matches at neutral venues and another suggestion has been to house players at a neutral venue for a prolonged period of time, with England’s St George’s Park base among those mooted.

“I think it is far-fetched, and to spend weeks away from your family is quite a big ask,” Murray said. “It is not just the eight weeks away from your family, it is the knock-on effect of everyone else. We are all going to be in hotels, there’s going to be housekeepers and chefs coming and going, it can’t be completely locked down. I am hoping it does not come down to that scenario.”

Paul Barber, the Brighton chief executive, echoed Murray’s sentiments on neutral venues being an unviable option. “If we were in a situation where it was felt necessary to lock players up for two months, that would suggest to me that the country is not safe,” Barber said. “That doesn’t make sense: it’s illogical. But we need to see where we get to and where the Premier League have got to tomorrow [Friday] at the meeting and then again at our meeting in a couple of weeks’ time.”

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