English football confident of finishing the season

In a joint statement, the Football Association, Premier League, EFL and Women’s Super League said they were confident their tightened coronavirus protocols would enable them to finish the season.

The statement read: ‘Safety is a collective effort and football requires the ongoing support of clubs, managers, players and all those involved in staging matches to continue to manage the spread of infection and set the right example to the public on and off the pitch.

‘We will offer guidance, education and support as well as reviewing our practices to ensure they remain of the highest standard.

English football is confident of finishing the season despite the current coronavirus crisis

English football is confident of finishing the season despite the current coronavirus crisis

It comes after players breached orders to avoid hugging, high-fives and handshakes

It comes after players breached orders to avoid hugging, high-fives and handshakes

‘Our three organisations have confidence in our COVID-19 protocols and our ability to bring the season to a successful conclusion.’ 

It comes after a series of urgent meetings between the Premier League, captains and managers to address the new Covid protocols – amid fears that continued non-compliance may trigger government intervention. 

As Sportsmail revealed last week, a series of stringent measures were sent to clubs in the wake of the new strain of the pandemic.

Players were told that they should avoid hugging, high-fives and handshakes, with sanctions promised for breaches. 

Despite being urged not to, players are still celebrating with hugs, high-fives and handshakes

Despite being urged not to, players are still celebrating with hugs, high-fives and handshakes

Premier League fear the Government will intervene if players continue to celebrate as normal

Premier League fear the Government will intervene if players continue to celebrate as normal

However, top-flight matches since the protocols were sent out have seen repeated instances of group hugs following goals. Sheffield United and both Manchester clubs are among those to have celebrated as normal.  

Sportsmail revealed that the ongoing situation has prompted worried Premier League officials to take action. 

They will hold a series of calls with captains, managers and key staff – thought to be safety officers – on Thursday and Friday at 2pm and 4pm.   

Four summits will be held on each afternoon. On the calls they are expected to be reminded of the new protocols, the reasoning behind them and the potential impact that repeated non-compliance could have.

The Premier League say that the talks were planned as part of the rollout of the new protocols. Clubs were informed of the meetings on Wednesday. 

On Wednesday, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said footballers needed to avoid unnecessary forms of physical contact. But the same evening, City’s players celebrated Phil Foden’s winning, first-half goal against Brighton with a nine-man hug.

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