Premier League footballers have been told they should expect to receive the results of coronavirus tests in just 24 hours.
Despite numerous objections to Project Restart, top flight football in England is set to resume on June 12, more than two months on from the decision to suspend the season as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the Daily Telegraph, the Premier League will begin its rigourous testing programme, at a cost of £4million, on Thursday.
But the speed at which players will receive their results is likely to spark fresh controversy, especially given NHS and social careworkers have been advised to wait between 48 and 72 hours to find out if they have contracted the disease from the Government’s testing scheme.
Dr John Ashton, the former director of public health in the North West, said: ‘I don’t think we should be doing this until everybody has a level playing field. If football can get results in this amount of time, then why can’t everybody else?’
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Medical protocols are likely to be discussed at Monday’s meeting of the 20 Premier League shareholder clubs ahead of teams returning en masse to their respective training grounds imminently.
‘What this shows is that you can get relatively fast results for people if you have got the resources. But there is also the question of scale. The number of essential workers and over 65s runs into the millions, while there are far fewer Premier League footballers to test,’ said Professor Martin Green, chief executive of Care England.
Several high profile players, including the likes of Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero, have raised concerns over football resuming on medical grounds, but last week Chelsea manager Frank Lampard admitted the issue of testing and the ethics of who should represent a priority had been playing on his mind.
‘The health and safety of players and staff is huge,’ Lampard told BT Sport. ‘We play a contact sport we’re all desperate to see – it’s a form of escapism, to watch football, play and train – but how are we not going to put the players at risk within that?
‘The other issue is testing. We will probably have a minimum of 70 or 80 staff at Cobham [Chelsea’s training ground] if we’re going to restart training. It’s right that we test regularly, but when we’re looking around the world … I think it’s important for football to take its place.
‘I don’t know the testing numbers for NHS and care workers, people who are doing these incredible jobs over the last two months. I don’t think it would sit well, not just with me, but with anybody, if we didn’t make sure that people who are in that frontline are getting tested.’
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