Six Premier League players and staff members have tested positive for COVID-19 after 748 tests were conducted on May 17 and 18. It is believed the confirmed cases come from three clubs.
Premier League teams will test players and staff members twice a week in a bid to get the 2019/20 campaign back underway. It is believed the results come from 19 clubs, with one waiting until yesterday to conduct their checks.
A statement read: “The Premier League can today confirm that, on Sunday 17 May and Monday 18 May, 748 players and club staff were tested for COVID-19. Of these, six have tested positive from three clubs.
“Players or club staff who have tested positive will now self-isolate for a period of seven days.
“The Premier League is providing this aggregated information for the purposes of competition integrity and oversight.
“No specific details as to clubs or individuals will be provided by the Premier League due to legal and operational requirements.”
A number of Premier League clubs were due to resume training in small groups on Tuesday under stage one of the return to training plan. It allows squads to socially distance while training in small groups, although contact is not permitted.
The top flight are aiming to resume action behind closed doors by June 12, although the start date could be pushed back by up to two weeks in case there are bumps along the road.
Premier League chief executive Richard Masters said: “I think once you know when you can start full contact training, and we’ve had a proper discussion about clubs over how much is required to create the fitness levels before they can start playing, you’re then in a position to confirm when the season start date is,” he said.
“We haven’t changed the start date; we have to be flexible about it. What we don’t want to do is continually to move that start date. So, we haven’t changed it but we need to be flexible and acknowledge we’re in a step-by-step process.”
In Germany, the Bundesliga got underway after players went into lockdown for seven days – but UK advisers say that is insufficient to make a significant difference.
It means that the football authorities are likely to try to persuade players that the protocols they are putting in place will make them safe enough without resorting to being isolated from their families.
Mark Gillett, the Premier League’s head of medical science, said: “The advice we are getting from government is that if you are going to isolate you have to do it for 14 days.
“So you will need to be in a hotel environment for 14 days to make it truly effective.
“Now that is something we are going to need to think about and consult widely with players, managers, clubs, LMA, PFA – all the stakeholders as we move through into that phase.
“It’s certainly something that will be discussed. And ultimately when we get into phase three in particular we will make a decision on that and it will be one that everyone is happy.”