The Spanish government has approved a protocol for sporting activity, paving the way for La Liga clubs to begin testing players for Covid-19 on Monday with a view to returning to training the following week.

The league is optimistic that this step will allow it to restart the competition in mid-June, although all decisions still depend on approval from the ministry of health and on the numbers infected by coronavirus continuing to decline.

A taskforce meeting called by the Supreme Sports Council (CSD) and attended by the league, the federation, the players union and representatives from some clubs, as well as other sporting bodies, approved the protocol as part of a four-phase government plan to reduce the lockdown and head towards what the prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, called “the new normality”. The final phase, scheduled for June, will include a return to competition.

With the population due to be allowed out for exercise for the first time this weekend, professional athletes will be given permission to train alone from Monday. Decisions, though, will be made on a province by province basis, with Covid-19 cases varying greatly across the 50 provinces in the country and altering the context at each club.

That plan broadly fits the league’s own four-phase proposal for a return to training, beginning with individual work and progressing through small, eight-man groups to full team sessions. The league hopes to inspect club training grounds on Monday and Tuesday next week to ensure their preparedness and tests will be carried out thereafter. La Liga has not yet finalised a protocol for a return to competition but government plans contemplate open-air events attended by fewer than 400 people in the final phase.

A statement said the CSD had approved “almost the entirety” of proposals placed before the government. While the full details are yet to be published, a short statement referring back to a 13 April decree suggested that Covid-19 tests could be carried out only by prescription and according to the criteria of the ministry of health, casting considerable doubt on La Liga’s initial plans to test players daily once sessions had begun.

The league had previously told clubs that it was indefinitely suspending the first round of testing, which it had hoped to begin this Tuesday 28 April, because it had not be authorised to do so by the ministry of health.

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