The Premier League is looking to curb the spread of Covid-19 among players and staff across the country with a new ‘enhanced’ set of measures that the 20 clubs must follow, or risk the possibility of punishment.
A string of instructions have been given to the clubs in a letter sent out on Friday, including a warning against handshakes or hugging and banning shirt-swapping.
The measures will not be formally brought in until the next Premier League shareholders’ meeting, but clubs have been instructed to start following them straight away, with cases rising sharply in and out of football.
Players must now wear face masks at all times unless they are playing during the match, warming up or giving interviews, meaning substitutes are not exempt.
Guests in matchday directors’ boxes are now also limited to 10-per-team.
Travel restrictions have become stricter, too, with clubs needing to use three coaches to travel anywhere, to ensure social distancing is respected.
Any external travel staff or anyone working at accommodation must also return a negative Covid-19 test.
Part of the letter read: ‘It is vital to ensure public, government and stakeholder confidence in the training and matchday protocols that individual transgressions by relevant persons are appropriately investigated and sanctioned by clubs.
‘Failure to do so may result in disciplinary action by the league individually against the relevant person, where appropriate (for example, where his or her conduct brings the league into disrepute) and/or against the club (where the relevant person’s conduct constitutes a breach of the training protocol).’
In the latest week of testing in the Premier League, there was a season-high return of 40 positive coronavirus tests.
Aston Villa CEO Christian Purslow confirmed on Friday: ‘We went from 0 positive tests for Covid to 14 yesterday. 10 of the 14 positive tests are for players.’