Newcastle United’s players are set to return in small groups to the club’s training ground this week as they begin their preparations for the proposed resumption of the 2019/20 Premier League campaign.
The season was suspended in March due to the coronavirus outbreak and Steve Bruce’s squad have been working on individual training programmes at home over the past few weeks.
However, based on the latest government advice, and following a Premier League shareholders meeting, United’s players will begin phase one of their return to small group training on Tuesday.
To ensure this is as safe as possible, Newcastle United kindly asks supporters and media not to travel to the training ground perimeter during this time and to continue adhering to the latest government guidance at gov.uk/coronavirus.
Players, coaches and essential support staff have now been tested for COVID-19 at the training ground in conjunction with the Premier League by global genomics health business Prenetics.
On Tuesday – by which time all test results will be known – players and staff will arrive at prearranged times staggered in groups of a maximum of ten players, with each working in groups of no more than five in separate areas of two pitches to allow for social distancing measures at all times.
Players will arrive in their training kit, parking their cars at least three spaces apart, and will head straight out to the field, with no access to the main building. They will then leave immediately after training. All equipment – including balls, corner flags, cones, goalposts, GPS units, boots and gloves – will be regularly disinfected and players will wear protective snoods on their faces at all times.
The players and staff will also be using an innovative app, developed by world leading bio-analytics company Orecco in association with Newcastle United, to record any potential symptoms. Players and staff will update the app each day and access to the training ground will only be permitted if players are deemed to be showing no symptoms.
Speaking to NUFC TV, head coach Bruce said: “It’s been a really difficult time, but I hope with the news that phase one is about to start – and I must stress that phase one looks as if it’s as safe as it can be – I’m sure everyone will be delighted that we’re trying to make that effort.
“In phase one we’re allowed to train four to five people on one pitch, so basically a player has a quarter of a pitch to work within, so social distancing is not a problem. We’ll train with 8-10 at a time on two separate pitches.
“Everything is in place in the safety aspect. I’ve got no issues and I can tell the supporters the players and the staff are as safe as we possibly can be. We all understand that this virus isn’t going to go away just like that – it’s going to hang around a bit, but I think with the protocols in place we’ll do everything we possibly can to get up and running again.”
Following Monday’s shareholders meeting between clubs, the Premier League issued the following statement: “Premier League Shareholders today voted unanimously to return to small group training from tomorrow afternoon – the first step towards restarting the Premier League, when safe to do so.
“Step One of the Return to Training Protocol enables squads to train while maintaining social distancing. Contact training is not yet permitted
“This first stage has been agreed in consultation with players, managers, Premier League club doctors, independent experts and the Government. Strict medical protocols of the highest standard will ensure everyone returns to training in the safest environment possible.
“The health and wellbeing of all participants is the Premier League’s priority, and the safe return to training is a step-by-step process. Full consultation will now continue with players, managers, clubs, the PFA and LMA as protocols for full-contact training are developed.”
For the latest official guidance, please visit gov.uk/coronavirus.