Coronavirus: Premier League discussing plan to play rest of season in isolated camps

·3 min read

As sports leagues start to ponder when and how they may be able to return from the industry-wide coronavirus shutdown, the English Premier League has an interesting idea in mind.

[ Coronavirus: How the sports world is responding to the pandemic ]

The Premier League has discussed plans for its clubs to play the rest of the 2019-20 season in an isolated “World Cup-style” camp in London and the midlands of England over June and July, according to The Independent.

Currently, the likeliest solution to finish the season is reportedly to play games “behind closed doors,” though the idea of camps has apparently gained traction among the clubs.

The reason for interest is reportedly the allure of increased television ratings thanks to the special nature of the event. Plans have reportedly been drawn up to televise all 92 matches remaining in the season, with a handful every day over the summer months.

How would this Premier League camp work amid the coronavirus pandemic?

Basically, clubs and their staffs would be confined to separate hotels away from their families with full testing and quarantine conditions. Training ground pitches have been reportedly discussed as possible venues, such as St. George’s Park.

Ideally, such a setup will minimize the risk of players contracting the coronavirus. Just one positive test would be catastrophic for this kind of plan.

By waiting until June and July, the league reportedly hopes a more rigorous testing system will be in place and hospitals will be less slammed by coronavirus cases. It’s impossible to envision this being pulled off without readily available testing for all involved.

Liverpool's Mohamed Salah, foreground, controls the ball as Atletico Madrid's Felipe defends during a 1st leg, round of 16, of the Champions League soccer match between Atletico Madrid and Liverpool at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium in Madrid, Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
Every Premier League will be clamoring to restart the season, but none more so than Liverpool. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

However, the remaining risk of the coronavirus is one of a few problems with the event. Many other people would also have to be quarantined, including officials and television crews. The possibility of a basic player injury during the game also raises an uncomfortable question about the plan, per the Independent:

“Where does a player who does his cruciate or breaks his leg go after he’s stretchered off?” one source privy to the plans asked. “Hospitals will have much bigger concerns. The Premier League would almost have to have a private hospital blocked off.”

Given how much of an uproar has been raised over sports leagues — and the rest of the wealthy — having much easier access to testing and treatment, the idea of blocking off a private hospital just for sports injuries, even if the coronavirus is more under control by then, would not be a popular one.

But that might just be how desperate leagues are to return to play. The United Kingdom government is also reportedly keen on the idea, as many of its citizens deal with the grind of self-isolation amid the outbreak. The return of the Premier League would be a boost to isolated people around the world, especially the Liverpool fans.

Plenty of other leagues will also probably be plenty interested in the idea if the Premier League looks like it can pull it off.

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