Dubai: This week is perhaps the crunch time for English Premier League (EPL) for more reasons than one.
Later in the day (Wednesday), the EPL clubs will hold a second vote on what has been commonly termed ‘Project Restart’.
For a start, Gary Hoffman commenced his new role as the chairman of the EPL. And among the first things on the agenda was holding separate conference calls with club doctors, captains and managers throughout Tuesday.
The EPL has June 12 as a proposed date for a restart but at the same time, the officials have gone on record that the date still remains very much flexible.
Going back a bit in time – last week to be precise – the Germans had shown the way while restarting the Bundesliga. However, there were several players within the EPL who expressed serious concerns about the return to football.
That’s as far as words go.
Among the action is the fact that all 20 clubs have now completed the third round of COVID-19 tests and the results of these are expected to the released by the EPL later on Wednesday. That exactly, could be the moment everyone is waiting for.
Gradually, there has been an elevation in the mood – from being paranoid and negative to a sort of cautious optimism and confidence among themselves.
How did this change come through? The EPL players have already gone through at least two rounds of testing and they conducted 1,750 tests – on players and other allied staff and of these, eight came in positive, including two players.
So far, there has been no spike in the positive results and as the number of tests have increased, there have been fewer negative results. And that’s where much of the confidence has received a boost, while making a return in the first half of next month look like a viable option.
The voice of players and managers is the key, and I doubt the EPL would have given an all-clear to competitive matches if there were enough dissenting voices among them.
So, Tuesday’s talks with club captains and managers said a lot indeed. The feeling one gets is that managers and players will pass on their thoughts for club executives to share during Wednesday’s meet prior to a vote.
Let’s wait and see what happens…ultimately, it will be for the best of English football.