Premier League clubs received the thumbs-up to start organizing friendlies before the season starts again in two weeks. But the sides must ensure that they follow strict protocols to organize the matches. The expected return of the league is scheduled for Wednesday, June 17, with Manchester City hosting Arsenal and Sheffield United traveling to Aston Villa.
And with clubs now back in full contact training, they have also been allowed to face other teams in friendly behind closed doors to help players get back to full speed.
There have been no Premier League games since March 9, since third-placed Leicester, 4-0, beat Villa threatened by relegation at King Power Stadium.
However, although players stay in shape at home and have been back in training since May 19, they are still trying to rediscover their fitness.
And so, according to the Daily Telegraph, the league will allow friendly matches to be played in stadiums or training camps – provided that a list of conditions is met to ensure that players and staff follow the guidelines for social detachment and maintain proper hygiene.
The report adds that, among these rules, clubs cannot travel for more than 90 minutes to face an opponent, while all players must travel to the games in their own cars and perhaps even in their kits.
No official Premier League referee may officiate at matches, requiring members of the coaching staff to oversee the proceedings.
As with matches in which the league returns, full and complete risk assessment reports from the stadium or training ground will be expected before the matches.
All players involved must also have registered a recent negative coronavirus test. In the fourth round of testing, there were no positive tests from 1,130 players and employees tested.
The Telegraph adds that Newcastle could receive a special allowance to travel beyond their rivals to play matches, given the lack of clubs that may be available to face them in the north.
The clubs will start organizing friendlies later this week, with the season starting two weeks tomorrow.
Several teams in the league are thought to have already received requests from Premier League clubs to play friendlies.
Liverpool and West Ham have played friendly matches in their own stadiums in the past few days.
The Reds had a short 11 x 11 game at Anfield, while the Hammers' team also played at the London Stadium, while the two teams trained on their empty grounds to get used to playing in places without fans.
Liverpool assistant coach Pepijn Lijnders said he returned to Merseyside: “It was an incredible feeling to be back at this iconic stadium.
"It is our home. Anfield is basically the second strongest connection we have, after our own homes.
“We had a training week full of intense sessions and breaking up with Anfield was great.
“We wanted to give players the feeling of playing and competing without a crowd.
“We are returning step by step to our way of playing, knowing that we have to work hard in training and be really committed to our principles to reach the same level that we had.
“Today was an important step in that direction; firstly, by familiarizing ourselves with the process around the games and, secondly, by giving our team playing time and competition very close to the environment that we will have in the future. "
Likewise, Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers said: "We will have some practice games in our own stadium before playing, so that they feel and get a sense of it.
"The game is not the same. Absolutely not. It cannot be. However, that is what we have to do.
"The intensity and commitment of the players will still be there. Obviously, we would love for our fans to be there, but there will be none."