Premier League players express...


Premier League players express concerns over return to play

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The Premier League has been given the green light for a return to action from 1 June but convincing players to play may yet prove to be the biggest hurdle.

The English top-flight's clubs met again today for further discussions regarding 'Project Restart', as the UK government announced plans for the return of professional sport.

Phase Two of the roadmap for reopening UK society will allow sporting events to take place behind closed doors for broadcast, while avoiding the risk of large scale social contact.

However, there have been a number of sticking points including the issue of playing games at neutral venues or whether relegation will still take place.

Most importantly, there is no certainty that every player would be willing to play what is a contact sport in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.

Aston Villa and England defender Tyrone Mings made his point on the matter with a rather sarcastic Twitter post this afternoon.

"Let's see what else they [Premier League officials] come out with," Mings wrote.

"If you believe everything in the press then I'm currently preparing myself to play with a mask, with gloves, for less than 45 minutes each way, whilst Australia."

Some supporters have taken the cynical view that objections, such as that of Watford, Brighton and Aston Villa to neutral venues, are made because those clubs are at risk of relegation if the season plays to a finish.

The Aston Villa stopper replied to a supporter who claimed that it would be 'disgusting' for a club to try and avoid relegation in this way.

"I agree with you," replied Mings.

"In my eyes we either play with relegation, because it’s safe to do so or don’t play because it’s not safe to do so."

There have been cases of footballers around Europe contracting the disease with La Liga revealing on Sunday that five players in the top two divisions in Spain had tested positive for COVID-19.

The entire squad of Bundesliga 2 club Dynamo Dresden are in quarantine after two of their players tested positive.

After news also broke on Sunday of a third player at Premier League club Brighton returning a positive test, Norwich City midfielder Todd Cantwell responded on Twitter saying: "We are people too."

The deputy chief of the players' union in England (PFA) has also highlighted players concerns while also referring to a UK government study that said black people are nearly twice as likely to die from COVID-19 than white people.

"You’ve got players who’ve got young children, players with pregnant partners, people with underlying health conditions," the PFA's Bobby Barnes told The Times newspaper.

"Some of the young black players I’ve spoken to have read what’s in the press and want answers to that (government study). 'Am I more affected in my demographic and if so why?'

"My stance with the Premier League from day one has been it’s all very well those of us in suits saying what our opinions are but we’re not going to be out there on a Saturday afternoon and we’re not going to be going back to our family."

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Aston Villa Bobby Barnes Brighton Norwich City PFA Premier League Todd Cantwell Tyrone Mings

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