Everton's players returned to limited training at Finch Farm for the first time in over two months today as the Premier League inches towards a resumption of the 2019-20 season.
The campaign and all top-level football in the UK was suspended in March as the COVID-19 pandemic swept the country but the top-flight clubs have remained committed to completing the 92 outstanding fixtures as soon as it is safe to do so.
That began with the clubs agreeing on Monday to resume training at their respective facilities, but with strict protocols in place to mitigate against the spread of novel coronavirus between players and staff, including restrictions on the number of personnel in training groups.
The hope is that the players can get fit enough and for testing for the virus to reveal sufficiently few cases for the season to recommence around a month from now. Tests from this week threw up six positive infections among players or staff, three at Watford, one at Burnley and two at one more as-yet un-named team.
Everton club captain, Seamus Coleman, revealed his excitement at getting back to Finch Farm as he explained the new circumstances under which he and his team-mates will be training for the foreseeable future.
“It's probably the longest I've been away from Finch Farm,” he said on evertonfc.com. “Driving through [the gates] was a great feeling but it's definitely a little bit different.
"The club has taken all the precautions needed. We were in in small groups and it felt very safe. They told us that would be the case but when you got there, you could see the work that has been put in to make it as safe as possible.
"The ideal scenario is we get back playing Premier League football and to do that, as players, we need to make sure we are doing everything right.
"The club made sure of that by telling us the rules and regulations. We couldn't wait to get on the training pitch and it was nice to see some of the lads again and get back out there training. It is up to us as players now to stick to the rules at the club and do what is asked of us.
"There are measurements to tell us how far to stay apart and a one-way system around the building, so you are not crossing paths with people. It feels as safe as it possibly can and, hopefully, we can move to phase two as quickly and safely as possible."
Reader Comments (24)
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1 Posted 21/05/2020 at 23:00:55
When they are all back playing, we will see which players put the effort in.
2 Posted 22/05/2020 at 01:40:55
3 Posted 22/05/2020 at 05:00:32
I did, as many others did last weekend, watch those games, although having said that, invariably I gave up half-way through. Although there was some skill on show, it was more like watching a kick-around or practice session at Finch Farm, but less enjoyable.
4 Posted 22/05/2020 at 09:17:41
5 Posted 22/05/2020 at 09:35:57
6 Posted 22/05/2020 at 09:38:19
As it stands at the moment, I don't see any great danger in doing this - the infection rates are comparatively low at the moment and, as others have said, we need to start getting back to some version of normality now. But simply picking up the PL where it left off, in such restricted and altered circumstances, is utterly ridiculous.
7 Posted 22/05/2020 at 11:10:51
Good idea for us and it would work for Chelsea, Arsenal, Spurs and West Ham. You may get Southampton, Bournemouth, Brighton and Crystal Palace in a group. Villa, Leicester and Wolves could be supplemented by Sheffield Utd. But not sure how it works with Newcastle, Burnley, Watford and Norwich. Unless all the clubs get something similar, they won't go for it.
What would be more likely if this sort of route was followed is that the paymasters at Sky would want their darling clubs (don't expect us or Leicester to get a call) to take part in a 6-team tournament. The rest would be left out altogether.
8 Posted 22/05/2020 at 13:12:56
I will cancel my season ticket, period.
9 Posted 22/05/2020 at 14:12:48
I watched the German version of MOTD last Saturday, and like most on here, it was difficult trying to get excited beyond the sterile (empty) environment.
It's good that our players are excited, and let's hope we are not disadvantaged by this all.
Credits to Lyndon and Michael for keeping the site ticking over.
10 Posted 22/05/2020 at 15:43:28
I will cancel my season ticket, period."
11 Posted 22/05/2020 at 16:39:48
If the Premier League get to whatever phase is in place just before resumption of the league games, and Liverpool's entire first team is required to isolate themselves, due to an outbreak of coronavirus within their squad, will they require Liverpool to compete with just their back-up players?
What if the above happens and their youngsters blow the title?
Will they keep banging on about integrity then? Or will they null and void the league?
I suspect... oh, who gives a fuck!
12 Posted 22/05/2020 at 17:10:49
13 Posted 22/05/2020 at 17:52:02
Just give them the tainted 2019-20 trophy and start planning for a new season.
New players, new contracts, new hope.
14 Posted 22/05/2020 at 18:25:54
15 Posted 22/05/2020 at 18:31:09
16 Posted 23/05/2020 at 07:31:50
17 Posted 23/05/2020 at 08:17:01
Good idea. A competition that people can identify with. Match practice for players. Media companies more than happy.
This season should be declared null and void, like any other season that was interrupted by a major event. Better for the clubs to move on in preparation for next season.
18 Posted 23/05/2020 at 08:40:44
And here are you in UK with heaps of new cases still and yet the EPL want to start matches again. Crazy IMO
It's all about $$$$$$$$$ (Sorry, I don't have a pds key on my Mac)
In SA our concern is a second wave that will remove all the benefits from the efforts against the first wave. Are we being precious or sensible?
19 Posted 23/05/2020 at 09:08:59
Haha, couldn't happen to a more deserving club.
20 Posted 23/05/2020 at 09:16:31
Here in WA as in SA, the Capital and Northern Teritories plus Queensland are just about clear of the bug. Still they are loosening their tight controls very carefully.
This is down to their Premiers taking quick action and not waiting for the Federal Government to take control.
NSW and Victoria the two states with by far the largest populations are behind the 8 ball due to allowing giant cruise ships disembark thousands of passengers into the general populace when it was known Covid-19 carriers were aboard.
22 Posted 23/05/2020 at 10:19:22
Still not sure what to do next for South Australia as our business is suffering, albeit with help from the job keeper program. It covers about 1/3rd of our wage bill but we are down close to 50% on last year's turnover. Still, we're thankful for what the Government has done.
What I don't want is frustration of lockdown to take-over and bring on phase 2, which might be more damaging. What's that phrase my mum in Moreton, Wirral used? "Patience is a virtue, try it if you can" â€” or something like that. Certainly, patience is needed.
Frankly, I would not like tho be at the top of the Premier League decision-making team. It's a lot of dosh they're having to think about. Maybe they need a new PR manager!
23 Posted 23/05/2020 at 11:15:57
Ditto chaps. I have already cancelled my Season Ticket and asked for my money back re unplayed games. End of!!
24 Posted 23/05/2020 at 14:23:09
A reckless decision was made when Liverpool played Atletico Madrid. It is time for football to be sensible for the common good.
25 Posted 24/05/2020 at 09:04:17
There's more important things to sort out first.
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