Premier League to resume contact training as big restart from coronavirus lockdown edges closer
Club shareholders 'voted unanimously' for next step as hopes increase of mid-June return
Premier League clubs have voted unanimously to resume contact training as 'Project Restart' took its next step forwards.
After starting with small, socially-distanced training sessions, players and managers from the 20 top-flight clubs were briefed on proposals for the reintroduction of contact training on Tuesday.
The matter was voted on the following day by Premier League shareholders and has been given the green light as a mid-June return edges closer.
In a statement, the league said: "Premier League shareholders today voted unanimously to resume contact training, marking another step towards restarting the Premier League season, when safe to do so.
"Squads are now able to train as a group and engage in tackling while minimising any unnecessary close contact.
"The Premier League's priority is the health and well-being of all participants.
"Strict medical protocols are in place to ensure the training ground is the safest environment possible and players and staff will continue to be tested for Covid-19 twice a week.
"Stage Two of the Return to Training protocol has been agreed following consultation with clubs, players, managers, the PFA, LMA and the Government.
"Discussions are ongoing as work continues towards resuming the season, when conditions allow."
The announcement that Phase Two can commence follows extensive testing of players and staff for coronavirus – with eight positives, including Bournemouth goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale, Watford defender Adrian Mariappa and Burnley assistant manager Ian Woan.
No matches have been played in the Premier League since March, when the coronavirus pandemic shut down world sport.
However, Wednesday's vote is a big step towards the Premier League completing the 92 remaining fixtures.
Phase Two allows up to 10 players to work together and would ease the time restrictions on training sessions and allow players to be closer.
The third phase would be a move to a more typical form of training in the build-up to actual games.
The league had signalled June 12 as a potential start date but it now looks likely to be later in the month.
Updated: May 27, 2020 04:47 PM