A number of Premier League clubs have been left scratching their heads after being told they can now use their indoor facilities for matches and training.
This week a document seen by Sportsmail was circulated to each top-flight side by the league. It advised that training sessions and matches can now be played indoors and that parents of academy players can come along to watch games.
But sources at several clubs have told Sportsmail they were questioning the logic of the move, which they feel contradicts Covid-19 safety guidelines.
‘We’ve got the Government bringing in the rule of six, which tells us we cannot mix in groups of more than six indoors or outdoors, and now we have the Premier League telling us that we can start having academy matches — with parents attending — at indoor centres at the training ground,’ said an official at one club. ‘It doesn’t seem to make sense.’
An insider at another club added that there are concerns that the missive could undo the work being carried out to ensure training grounds are secure.
‘All we’ve been hearing is that we must limit the number of people allowed in the bubble and now this,’ they said. ‘It’s all a bit contradictory. Do we really want age groups from nine to 16 and their parents coming into an indoor environment which the first team may then use?’
Most clubs train outdoors but hold gym sessions indoors. The document allows first-team players to use indoor centres ‘as they are categorised as elite sport training and competition’.
It does, however, point out that evidence suggests the virus can thrive in ‘poorly ventilated indoor spaces’ and clubs are urged to ensure ventilation into their buildings is ‘optimised to ensure a fresh air supply is provided to all areas of the facility and increased wherever possible’.
Clubs are also informed they should limit capacity to provide ‘a minimum of 100 square feet per person’, including in changing rooms, toilet and wash facilities. The existing ventilation rate should also be increased by ‘fully opening dampers and running fans on full speed’, while venues ‘should operate a ventilation system 24 hours a day and increase the frequency of filter changes’.
The memo adds that parents who wish to attend academy matches should provide contact details for the test and trace programme. It states that players under the age of 18 are exempt from the rule of six for indoor team sports and can train indoors, as long as the necessary risk assessments have been carried out.