By Simon Evans
MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) - The social distancing restrictions in force for the Premier League's return to training will be monitored by a team of inspectors to ensure clubs play by the new rules, the league's director of football said on Monday.
Richard Garlick told reporters that the league would introduce unannounced visits to training grounds where, from tomorrow, small groups may conduct non-contact training.
“We can request information from videoing of the sessions and GPS data, too. We are also looking at bringing in our own independent audit inspection team that we’ll scale up over the next few days which will give us the ability to have inspections at training grounds to start with on a no-notice basis," Garlick said.
Initially training sessions must be limited to 75 minutes and players can only work in groups of five players at the most.
A team which began contact training, large group training or which held longer sessions could gain an advantage over other clubs, which is why the league is going down the inspection route.
“Gradually, we aim to ramp that up so we can have an inspector at every training ground. That will enable us to give everyone confidence that the protocols are being complied with, and give the public confidence that we are trying to create a very safe working environment," added Garlick.
The league’s medical adviser Mark Gillett said that Public Health England had told football not to expect any significant easing in the need for social distancing in the near future.
“They’ve made it very clear that the public health situation is not going to change over the next six to 12 months. In terms of social distancing and that cultural change we are asking footballers to make, I think we are going to face that for the foreseeable future," he said.
Should the season re-start as planned in June, the league also hopes to have Liverpool receive the trophy in a ceremony, if as expected Juergen Klopp's side, who are 25 points clear, capture their first league title in 30 years.
"If at all possible, yes. We would like to have a trophy presentation to give the players and staff the moment they have worked so hard for. We would try and do it unless it wasn’t possible because of safety concerns," said chief executive Richard Masters.
(Reporting by Simon Evans, editing by Pritha Sarkar)