No masks and no ball boys – Premier League return plans revealed

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Players and coaching staff will not be required to wear masks at stadiums when the Premier League restarts.

Players will be encouraged not to spit or clear their noses and not to break social distancing during goal celebrations.

There will be no ball boys or girls – a system of sterilised replacement balls will be used.

 

Aston Villa v Sheffield United will be the first game when the league returns on 17 June.

In Germany’s Bundesliga players and staff have been required to wear masks at all times, except for during play.

 

In the Premier League they will not have to wear masks at all, even in the changing room or on the bench, although the fourth official as well as doctors and physios will have to.

On Thursday the Premier League announced there will be a minute’s silence to remember those who have died with coronavirus before the first matches.

 

Heart-shaped badges in tribute to frontline NHS staff will also be worn on kits.

Clubs agreed to a range of medical and operational protocols for the restart of the season at a meeting on Thursday.

 

There will be strict limits on those allowed into stadiums on matchdays and grounds will be split into zones, including the tunnel and pitchside.

In total only 300 people will be in each stadium, with no more than 110 in the ‘red zone’ including players, club staff and officials.

 

There will be deep cleaning of corner flags, goalposts, substitution boards and match balls before and after each fixture.

Some extra disinfection, such as of the substitution board after it is used, is likely to take place during matches and at half-time, while other work will be carried out during drinks breaks if they are permitted by the league.

 

The medical protocols stipulate how squads and coaching staff must travel to and from games, observing social distancing.

Clubs will be encouraged to fly on longer away trips to limit use of hotels, and every player and coach will be temperature checked before they arrive at the stadium.

Players will have to hand sanitise when they enter and leave the field of play.

 

Meanwhile, players are working with the Premier League on a Black Lives Matter tribute but details are yet to be finalised.

Options discussed by players this week included taking a knee, a Black Lives Matter logo on shirts and players’ names being replaced by the phrase Black Lives Matter.

The Premier League has been suspended since 13 March because of the pandemic.

 

The fixture schedule for the first three rounds was confirmed on Friday, with 33 of the remaining 92 matches to be shown on free-to-air platforms.

The league will resume on Wednesday when Aston Villa host Sheffield United at 18:00 BST, with Manchester City v Arsenal at 20:15.

Teams returned to contact training at the end of May. In the latest round of testing at Premier League clubs, one person tested positive for Covid-19.

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