The Premier League has announced that its new Covid-19 testing round has failed to yield positive results, offering a timely boost in morale for the scheduled restart on June 17. A total of 1,130 players and club members were screened and provided the first all-clear in the fourth screening session, held on Thursday and Friday.
The news is likely to bring some comfort and reassurance about the league’s expected resumption next month and comes at an appropriate moment after the government has made a point of reminding the public “Football is back” as part of a wider announcement about the return of professional sport.
A statement read: “Today the Premier League may confirm that on Thursday 28 May and Friday 29 May 1,130 players and club personnel were screened for Covid-19. Zero of these tested positive.”
The current test round was the largest yet, with the maximum allocation increased from 50 to 60 for each club, and also the first to begin contact training since the unanimous vote. The three corresponding trials, conducted between May 17 and May 26, yielded a total of 12 positives from a sample size of more than 2,700.
In the first round, there were six positive cases from 3 clubs, two from 2 clubs in the second and four from 2 clubs in the third.
Testing starts twice a week. Premier League Chief Executive Richard Masters had previously noted a government signal – delivered at Downing Street briefing by Oliver Dowden, State Secretary for Digital, Arts, Media, and Sport.
There are also a few questions to be answered on the subject of venues, with police chiefs keen to see at least six high-profile matches played on neutral turf.
Asked explicitly about the fixtures identified-and specifically about the Merseyside derby-Dowden said: “It is up to each sport to apply guidelines (Government) and to decide how they do that.”He added that the police and local authorities would collectively decide which venues for matches will be suitable.
Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, the Deputy Chief Medical Officer, said fans assemble outside the stadiums as the returns from football are “clearly a matter for the police.”