Premier League clubs including Everton face having to install portakabins to comply with new safety protocols that could be introduced by the league in time for the restart of its season. The English top flight will this week discuss a number of possible health and safety measures to protect players and staff.
The league will return on Wednesday June 17, with 92 fixtures to be held in a 39-day period between then and August 2.
The British government still however want social distancing guidelines to be “maintained by all groups where possible” during sports events.
And so the league is set to force some clubs to instal portakabins to allow players to get changed in, while teams may also be forced to take flights via private jets to away matches.
The 20 clubs will be presented with the new measures at the next official league meeting this Thursday.
But there are concerns that not all of the league’s stadiums are suited to meeting the government’s social distancing demands.
As such, there are a handful of clubs who will be ordered to make changes so that the authorities deem their grounds acceptable for use.
That’s according to the Daily Mirror, who also add that thorough risk assessment reports will be completed on every match.
Given the tight tunnel and small changing rooms at Everton’s Goodison Park, the Toffees are one of several clubs – added to Watford with their Vicarage Road stadium and Burnley’s Turf Moor – who may have to have work done before games get underway.
The Mirror add that Everton may have to take up both of the old-school-style home and away changing rooms at Goodison to allow their players to stay two metres apart.
As such, the Merseyside club would have to install a portakabin somewhere at Goodison to allow the away team to get changed, though they would then have to make their own way to the pitch rather than using the narrow pitch-side tunnel.
One club who will not be affected are Tottenham, having installed NFL-size changing rooms to accommodate 53-man American Football teams.
The issue of dressing rooms was mentioned in Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden’s Downing Street address on the weekend.
He said: “We’ve had dozens of meetings and published pages of detailed guidance outlining first how to get elite athletes back into socially-distanced training and then back into contact training.
“Throughout all of this we’ve put the safety of athletes, coaches and support staff first and foremost.
“By working so closely with the sports themselves we’ve made sure that it’s been a collaborative, consensual effort to create the safest possible environments for everyone involved safe.
“The guidance outlines various measures that need to be in place for an event to go ahead and to keep everyone involved safe.
“That includes a screening process for coronavirus symptoms at the venue, a one-way system for people in vehicles, minimising the use of dressing rooms and of course, maintaining social distancing wherever that is possible.”
And the Mirror add that government guidelines will also incorporate restrictions on travelling to and from games, with it thought that clubs will be told to book expensive private flights for long away journeys rather than travel via trains or coaches.
That is because, in order to keep players a safe distance away from one another while travelling, up to three coaches would need to be used while multiple train coaches would have to be booked out for rail journeys, which also presents the risk of players coming into contact with the general public.
Private planes are seen as easier to clean and they also allow players to stay spread out, while airports can accommodate terminals to ensure stars are kept well away from people.
Meanwhile, in the latest batch of coronavirus test results revealed on Saturday, not a single positive test was found.
Of 1,130 players and staff tested, zero returned positive tests, with 12 positives across the first three previous rounds, which encompassed 2,752 tests.
The league said in a statement: “The Premier League is providing this aggregated information for the purposes of competition integrity and transparency.
“No specific details as to clubs or individuals will be provided by the League and results will be made public after each round of testing.”