Daily Express


Taylor optimistic ahead of crunch resumption talks

- By John Cross

GORDON TAYLOR believes Project Restart is “achievable” with the right assurances for players.

Premier League players take part in crunch talks today with the Profession­al Footballer­s’ Associatio­n, league bosses and Government medical experts to discuss the way forward.

Club captains and PFA reps will be on the video conference call in what must be seen as the biggest hurdle before the league can resume next month and play the remaining

92 fixtures.

The clubs have been given a

40-page document compiled by the league on training protocols and many held discussion­s with their first-team squads ahead of the formal talks.

The PFA have also sent guidelines to all players to advise them on health issues such as asthma, increased risk for black, Asian and minority ethnic [BAME] players and guidance on a potential return to training on Monday. Players will be told to park three spaces apart, they must not share cars into training, there will be no contact allowed, they will be tested twice a week and will get assurances that their training grounds will be among the safest places in the country.

On Monday, Raheem Sterling and Danny Rose voiced major concerns about football returning amid the pandemic and whether it was safe and morally correct to do so. PFA chief executive Taylor admitted that it would be a difficult balance between returning to games next month, the need to get football going again amid the financial difficulti­es facing the game and also being respectful when hundreds are still dying.

The PFA will push for assurances that if players do not buy into the advice or have medical concerns then they will be excused from playing with no long-term ramificati­ons.

Taylor believes players must be open minded on the discussion­s.

“They [Sterling and Rose] are reflecting how they feel and I understand that,” said Taylor.

“But we can show that everything that can be done will be done.

“We’ve got the best people available to answer questions on issues like testing, if someone tests positive, spitting, social distancing and BAME players.

“It’s about giving reassuranc­es to players, to make sure everything that can be done is being done. It is a stepby-step process.”

Looking ahead to today’s meeting, Taylor added: “It will be an opportunit­y for them to express their feelings, they will also need to be comfortabl­e and confident with the answers and assurances they are given.

“It’s difficult to prejudge and it’s going to be on a club-byclub basis and I just want to make sure that any questions that players have are answered.

“We’ve got to try it, see if we can return to some form of activity. But it’s also about being as careful as possible.

“We have to be open-minded. There’s a balance between what you hope can be done and what is realistic to achieve.

“It helps if you have other countries in the same boat, such as Germany. If they are looking to achieve it as well then it gives everyone else confidence.

“We’ve been in lockdown for six or seven weeks and it’s been a terrible tragedy, but if we don’t return soon then the whole economy will crash and the consequenc­es will be extremely severe.

“It’s a waiting game with the pandemic and we must see some better figures to show that there has been an improvemen­t and we don’t get a backlash.

“We’re still walking on thin ice at the moment. We are desperate for clarity but the more people want clarity the more difficult it is to give it.”

We are still walking on thin ice

 ??  ?? GREEN LIGHT: Taylor will seek to give assurances to players today
GREEN LIGHT: Taylor will seek to give assurances to players today

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