Premier League squads could be quarantined in the event of a single failed coronavirus test if clubs vote to return to training next week.
Players are to be tested for Covid‑19 twice a week during a first stage of return, with a positive test requiring the player to isolate for seven days under Public Health England guidelines. PHE rules, however, also require that a “contact” of a known case should isolate, as someone would if they were living in the same house. That quarantine period should last for 14 days.
The EFL, in training protocols sent to its clubs this week, confirmed that a “playing group” would be quarantined for 14 days if one of their number tested positive. The Premier League would not comment on the details of its protocols but confirmed it was following PHE guidelines.
The medical protocols have been challenged by Premier League managers during a conference call this week. Some clubs are also waiting for the protocol to be approved before testing their players, and the prospect of large‑scale quarantine is another potential impediment in the already narrow path towards resumption.
Should the protocols be approved at the shareholders’ meeting on Monday it would be only another tentative step. The protocols will not address the complicated and higher-risk training that would involve contact and groups at close quarters. An estimated two weeks of contact training would be needed before games could be played.
While contact training would be a more sizable hurdle for the league to clear, a positive vote on Monday would buy time to do it. It may also provide a window for PHE to update guidance on quarantine. A positive test in this first stage of training – where groups will be limited in size – could be manageable for clubs but once full training is resumed large-scale quarantine would pose serious questions over sporting integrity.
The Bundesliga becomes the first major European league to resume on Saturday, with clubs following a rule where only the player to test positive is made to isolate.
In Italy approval for the resumption of training for Serie A was predicated on a change to the government protocol which required squad quarantine. On Friday Serie A officials called on the government to relax that condition. “The points of the protocol that are difficult to implement were analysed and some tweaks were constructively elaborated in order to solve problems,” the league said.