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Premier League restart: Referees hoping to take charge of friendlies as they ramp up preparations

PGMOL members to hold talks this week with medical experts

Mike Riley is self-isolating as a precaution

Premier League referees are hoping to take charge of a series of friendlies over the next fortnight as part of preparations for their return to competitive action.

Professional Game Match Officials Board (PGMOL) members will hold talks this week with the league's medical experts ahead of the proposed return of Premier League fixtures behind closed doors on June 17.

In particular, the PGMOL is keen to consider what can be learned from the four rounds of games played so far in the Bundesliga.

The lack of matches continues to hamper officials' preparations for a return to competition, and referees in Germany had similar problems prior to their return last month.

With Premier League clubs isolating their players in sterile 'bubbles', the opportunities for referees to get up to speed are limited.

Manchester United's players react towards referee Craig Pawson after the second goal was disallowed during the Premier League game at Anfield
Image: Players will be asked to remain two metres away when talking to match officials

However, talks this week may consider a way for referees to take charge of the behind-closed-doors games Premier League teams are organising.

Players and managers will not be cautioned for using foul language when Premier League action returns, despite concerns that viewers and listeners may hear more swearing.

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However, it is expected that the Premier League will remind clubs that players and managers should be mindful of what fans can hear.

Players will also be asked to remain two metres away when talking to match officials, although they understand that, on some occasions, players will come into close contact, such as when they are marking out 10 yards for free-kicks.

VAR has proven a controversial topic since its introduction in the Premier League this season - but many other things will be discussed by the IFAB board this weekend
Image: Clubs will be reminded that players and managers should be mindful of what fans can hear during the games.

All PGMOL officials, who hope social distancing can be encouraged wherever possible, have remained fit and well during lockdown and all are keen to return to match action later this month. They have all had regular video conferencing sessions to help bring them up to speed.

To date, however, referees and assistants have not been tested for COVID-19, although plans to introduce testing will be discussed this week and would have to take place before they took charge of any potential friendlies.

Referees will be encouraged to continue the increased use of pitch-side monitors - which were not consulted in a Premier League game until January 18 - while being advised by VAR colleagues at Stockley Park.

Sky Sports will show 64 live Premier League games when the season resumes. In addition to the 39 matches already scheduled to be broadcast exclusively live on Sky Sports before the coronavirus interruption, 25 more matches will be available on both Sky Sports Premier League and Sky's free-to-air Pick channel, allowing the whole nation to be part of the return of live sport.

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