The Premier League is planning a series of surprise inspections to ensure clubs adhere to safety guidelines now that training is back underway.
Top-tier football practice sessions are resuming across the country today; albeit in an unrecognisable format.
The COVID-19 climate means clubs are expected to implement social distancing measures, keep team members contained to small groups (five max), and ensure sessions do not proceed for longer than 75 minutes for each player.
Pitches, balls, flags, nets and other equipment must also be thoroughly disinfected after each session.
The protocols are being enforced as part of Project Restart – an ever-changing strategy designed to reboot football in England at the highest level.
In order for league action to resume, PL bosses have told clubs they will need to adjust and co-operate to the measures laid out for them.
Football fans were boosted by the return of the Bundesliga – Germany’s elite football division – this past weekend; which proved that getting football back on screens wasn’t just a pipe dream.
However, numerous sacrifices were required to make it happen – not least the absence of supporters.
It remains likely that all the remaining Premier League fixtures will be played behind closed doors, stirring much debate around the value of football without fans.
According to Reuters, the Premier League may even consider the addition of augmented reality technology and ‘virtual’ supporters to reignite an atmosphere in stadiums in England.
Still, finding a way to play out the remaining 92 fixtures is the league’s main priority right now.
June 12 had originally been put forward as a prospective date for competitive league action, with the government giving a cautious thumbs-up for elite sport to return from 1 June.
However, kicking off in the middle of next month is looking increasingly ambitious, with the Premier League yet to outline a plan for full-contact training.
It took the Bundesliga over four weeks to go from non-contact sessions to playing competitive matches – which suggests 20 June is perhaps the earliest date top-tier UK football will begin again.
For now, PL clubs will pursue light training and look out for updates during what is set to be yet another decisive week.