Premier League players should be wary of signing away rights for Project Restart

I must confess to a wry smile last week when I read that Italy would scrap the Serie A season if there was even one positive test for coronavirus following its resumption.

In a tweet I put out to my followers in mid-March, I said to look out for a miraculous zero-case-rate in football when it returns, and that’s exactly what I expect in Italy and over here.

How many times have we seen ­players miss a game or two and we know full well it’s because of injury, but clubs just decide not to tell you?

All they will have to do now is say someone has a slight ankle issue, a knock here or there, a cold, hay fever, the flu – any number of the excuses that are often used.

But one thing is for certain, we won’t hear someone has tested positive for Covid-19 because of the repercussions that would follow.

I can see how it would play out now.

A player would phone the physio and say: ‘Fizz, I’m struggling. I’ve got aches, pains, a real temperature and a cough.’

The physio will say: ‘It’s okay, put on your mask and come in. Take a walk round the edge of the training pitch on your own because there are ­photographers here and it’ll be dodgy if you don’t come in.

"When you’ve gone home we’ll say you’ve had a little setback in training, a calf niggle, and that you’ll be out for two weeks."

And, hey presto, it’s done and dusted.

If anyone out there thinks football clubs haven’t done this for 100 years and won’t do it just because we’re in a pandemic, they are absolutely crazy.

What I’d like to see is the Premier League and EFL introducing a ‘disabled list’ like the ones they have in the US. They are released every week and keep supporters informed as to who is unavailable and why.

The big question now, of course, is when the season will start – I’d say the weekend of June 12 looks too soon.

Spurs boss Jose Mourinho is right when he says players need four weeks to get themselves properly fit – because any less and we’ll see some ridiculous results.

But what will be interesting this week is seeing how many players are willing to commit and, more importantly, willing to sign the consent forms that are being proposed.

Because, I can tell you now, I wouldn’t be signing it if I were still playing.

It looks more like a waiver than a consent form and I’d be demanding a full copy to send to my lawyer.

No doubt he’d come back to me and say: "Stan, I’m worried about this clause or that clause because it not only waives your rights in terms of coronavirus but it could potentially have an impact on your contract afterwards."

I know the majority of players will send the form on to their agents who will have their own lawyers, but my worry is that a lot of them will also be thinking along the lines of, "Look, I’ve been locked down now for eight weeks, I just want to get out and play again so I will sign it whatever".

So there are massive red flags there.

The most important thing for ­football when it does resume is for the players to be able to play the game safely.

And if the sport itself is happy it’s doing everything it can in terms of protocols and in satisfying club doctors, then why on earth would you need to sign a waiver?

You should just be ­allowed to play.

Let’s be honest about it, though: any notion that this season has to finish for reasons of sporting integrity or to lift the nation’s morale is a nonsense. We all know it has nothing to do with that.

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