The Premier League hopes to kickstart ‘Project Restart’ on Monday by securing a vote on a return to non-contact training, as well as smoothing other concerns ahead of another crucial week in securing a 19 June start date.
The 20 clubs and various stakeholders will gather for the latest videoconference early in the morning, to cast their view on phase one of the return.
That is small groups of five players training with three coaches, that fits with graded government guidelines. It also fits with what is seen as a promising new strategy that will gradually secure agreement and a return to football, whereby any concerned parties are convinced by the developing steps taken at every turn.
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The initial Premier League plan was initially to get all clubs to vote on a hard restart date and all the terms around that, but it soon became clear the idea was too broad, with details too unclear at too far a distance.
It was this that saw a lot of concerns arise – primarily in relation to safety – and made it almost impossible to secure consensus.
The hope now is that all parties will be taken along step by step, and that can be seen in the developments of the last week. While players and some clubs were reluctant to sign up to phase two of the plans – which will be full contact training – due to the lack of detail, they feel phase one is clear, and there is a confidence a necessary majority of 14 will be easily struck today.
In the meantime, the clubs and Premier League will put together persuasive proposals for phase two.
The same can be seen with neutral grounds and the new possibility of full home and away fixtures. While some clubs were initially very reluctant to play at stadiums other than their own, with that having proven a huge obstacle, the Premier League has put off any vote on that and sought to go back to government to see if that can be re-assessed.
They are expecting a decision this week, and there is hope it will be agreed to in light of the Bundesliga’s success. The German situation has helped change the thinking. Even if home and away games are turned down, though, it is felt the more collective approach – and evidence of a willingness to explore the most preferable option – would help secure a majority in a vote on neutral grounds.
It is possible that will happen on Friday, depending on this week’s developments.
A large part of Monday’s meeting, according to sources, is to “continue to appease the discontented”.