Coronavirus: Championship players given self-test option before training return
EFL outlines three testing options for players as part of 'flexible approach'; League says "health, wellbeing and safety of EFL players, managers and staff has been at the forefront of discussions"
Last Updated: 22/05/20 4:33pm
Championship players will be given the option to self-test for coronavirus ahead of a planned return to training on Monday.
The EFL says it is taking a 'flexible approach' to testing, and has outlined three ways in which clubs will be able to check if their players are free from the virus.
Their options are: to have tests conducted by independent professionals; to have their own medical staff conduct the tests; or to allow the players to test themselves.
As part of the self-test option, players would conduct a swab test at home or at the training ground by themselves, before passing their sample onto the club to be analysed.
While players have begun to be tested for coronavirus at training grounds around the country, it is understood less than a third of clubs will take up the EFL's option for players to test themselves.
An EFL statement released on Friday read: "The EFL has provided its clubs with updated and finalised Return to Training Protocols (RTT) ahead of the planned resumption of tailored training on Monday 25 May 2020 for Championship clubs, and moved to clarify the League's approach to the testing of players and subsequent reporting.
"The EFL has commissioned Nationwide Pathology to support the testing of EFL players and staff as part of the first phase of its RTT protocols, with initial testing for players, coaching and backroom staff in the EFL Championship commencing on Thursday 21 May and continuing throughout Friday 22 May 2020.
"There will be a flexible approach to testing, with a combination of procedures conducted by independent testers, Club medical staff and some self-testing as required.
"The accuracy of these tests is aligned with government guidelines and, for the avoidance of any doubt, availability to clubs will not impact NHS testing resources or prevent other individuals from receiving a test as required.
"The EFL will announce the following data at the end of the initial testing phase: the number of tests undertaken, the number of positive cases (if any).
"This first collection of data from the initial testing phase is unlikely to be available until Sunday 24 May 2020 and the EFL will publicly advise if any earlier. Please note: the EFL will not be releasing individual club data.
"The health, wellbeing and safety of EFL players, managers and staff has been at the forefront of the League's discussions, scenario planning and decision making throughout this process and we will continue to consult with medical experts to ensure this is maintained as circumstances evolve."
The statement confirmed there is no testing programme currently underway for League One and Two clubs, but that dependent on season curtailment discussions, testing provisions could be extended to these leagues.
It added these teams can still "make their training ground pitches available for individual socially-distanced training sessions, adhering to all the relevant government guidance and RTT protocols."
The EFL has also published the following protocols to provide further clarity on clubs returning to training: arrival and preparation for players and staff attending a training ground environment, training procedures, warm-down and Injury Prevention Programmes, exiting the training ground, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), training ground hygiene protocol, and media arrangements.
Football League clubs are set for a fresh round of talks with the EFL after a board meeting on Wednesday that looked at three different situations currently facing the Championship, League One and League Two, in determining how to conclude the 2019/20 season.
For Championship clubs, it is all about returning to playing games. A 42-page protocol document was sent to all clubs this week, containing strict guidelines on a return to training and ultimately playing, and this was discussed at the board meeting on Wednesday.
The board members want to ensure all bases are covered in what is an important week for the second tier of English football.
There has been a lot of talk in recent weeks, but there is a sense the time has now arrived for decisions to be made, with a need for compromise essential.
Clubs will be required to cast aside their own agendas in some cases for the future stability of the league, and chairman Rick Parry will look to bring all sides together to achieve that.
Manchester United captain Harry Maguire says it felt "so safe" returning to training this week following the Premier League's first round of coronavirus testing.
United returned to their Carrington training complex on Wednesday - two months since their last competitive match - and, although it was a change from the norm, Maguire was pleased to be back.
Asked if it was reassuring knowing everyone had been tested, Maguire told the club's website: "Yeah, it's been a strange few months, but it has been a protocol which the club has followed. It seems such a safe environment.
"It's our first day back today, but it seems so safe and everyone is respecting it so well, so long may that continue and I'm sure no one will have any problems."