Angela Merkel delays Bundesliga return in blow to Premier League’s ‘Project Restart’

Angela Merkel delays Bundesliga return in blow to Premier League’s ‘Project Restart’

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has delayed any restart to the Bundesliga until May 22 at the earliest, in a blow to the Premier League. The German league was expected to be able to get going from May 15, becoming the first major league to restart after the coronavirus put much of Europe into lockdown.

But that has been pushed back another week in an ominous sign for European football as Merkel put the brakes on a restart.

She is due to meet the heads of state at 10am this morning to discuss the country’s options further.

The move comes as the government insists all teams must do two weeks of quarantine before returning.

Most leagues in Europe have been on hold since March, and while the Premier League had hoped to be back in the first week of April, they are now waiting for the right moment rather than a specific date.

June 8 is tentatively being discussed as a potential return in England, while the Chancellor is expected to announce the German league will return this month.

German clubs have been in training over the last few weeks and are closer to being able to step that up and return to games.

English clubs have begun opening their training grounds for clubs, but players are still not allowed to train in groups and many precautions are in place.

These, along with social distancing measures, would need to be reduced by the government before football can return.

The Premier League had hoped to meet with its members on Friday to further discuss ‘Project Restart’ but will now convene on Monday following Boris Johnson’s announcement on the roadmap for the UK which will come on Sunday.

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The Prime Minister is preparing to announce how and when the next stage in the fight against coronavirus will begin and may clear the way for elite sport to resume.

The PM’s No 2 Dominic Raab confirmed talks with the Premier League and the government had taken place over plans to play behind closed doors to finish the football season.

“I think it would lift the spirits of the nation [for sport to return],” said Raab on Tuesday.

“I think it people would like to see us get back, not just to work and get back to a stage where children can safely go to school, but to some of those pastimes and to sport in particular.

“I know the government’s had constructive meetings with sports bodies [over] plans for athletes to resume training, when it’s safe to do so. I can tell you that the Culture Secretary [Oliver Dowden] also has been working on a plan to get sports played behind closed doors when we move to the second phase. So that’s something I can tell you we’re looking at.

“Coming back to the key point, though, we can only do it when the scientific advice is that it can be done safely and sustainably. But, certainly, that’s something under active consideration.”

Raab was also probed on whether a vaccine was required before fans could return to football stadiums.

“I can’t look too far into the future because there are various different ways we can get control of the virus, permanently, defeat it for good,” Raab said. “The vaccine is one of those. Therapeutics are another.

“I think we’re all waiting to see how effective national test, track and tracing can be. I think that’s also an option. But whether it’s a combination of test, track and tracing and other social distancing measures within what’s possible within a sporting environment.

“We want to see behind closed doors what the options are for doing that. I think it’s worth taking a close look at that, seeing whether it’s possible to do it safely. But, as ever, taking the scientific and medical advice as to when and how to proceed.”

The Premier League is also having to answer questions over the safety of returning to action by club doctors.

At least four doctors are understood to have written to the Premier League to discuss the situation.

The Athletic reported last night that the group of doctors had written a 100-point email to challenge the league on further medical procedures.

There is also opposition to restarting in the planned manner with plans to play at neutral venues and only at around half of the stadiums in the league, leading to suggestions relegation should be discarded for the season.

However EFL chief Rick Parry warned of the lawsuits that would follow if that was given the green light.

“The lawyers are going to get wealthy if that happens,” Parry said. “There would be a degree of outrage from a number of clubs in our Championship, and it would be a breach of the tripartite agreement.

“The safe answer is that it would get very messy. Our expectation is there would be three clubs promoted from the Championship.”

Published at Wed, 06 May 2020 07:24:00 +0000