Project Restart Q&A: Deadline day looms as Premier League clubs hold Thursday call

Premier League clubs will hold another crucial conference call on ‘Project Restart’ on Thursday morning, their second meeting in two days. Sky Sports News’ chief reporter Bryan Swanson answers the key questions.

Why are clubs meeting again so soon?

Clubs must look at various scenarios and they know they must make a final decision on when, and how, the season resumes.

There are unresolved issues including a restart date, the scheduling of fixtures, the venues, and what happens if there is a second peak of coronavirus and games cannot be played.

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Big decisions have to be made and this meeting is designed to focus minds on specifics.

Clubs have scheduled a further call next week, June 4, in a decisive seven days for the future of ‘Project Restart’.

Is confidence growing?

Momentum is growing towards the resumption of games later next month, most likely from June 19, but nobody is getting carried away.

The Premier League will have been relieved that clubs unanimously agreed on Wednesday morning to resume contact training.

After weeks of anxiety and probing questioning, club doctors, players and managers have been reassured that they are returning to an environment that is as safe as possible.

But these remain tentative steps and clubs will take part in a fourth round of tests on Thursday and Friday.

Will more positive tests cause alarm?

There have been 12 positive results in the first three rounds of testing this month, after four positive tests were announced on Wednesday evening.

But we don’t yet know whether these new results include any of the six people who tested positive in the first round and have since returned from seven days in self-isolation.

The figure is still relatively low so will provide further cautious optimism for the Premier League, only hours after the significant decision was made to resume contact training.

These latest results again demonstrate that coronavirus is not widespread in all 20 clubs at the moment, at least not among an average of 50 people tested per club in the third round.

Crucially, there has been no cluster of positive results in one club.

The fact there are four positive tests must be taken seriously and those individuals must self-isolate for seven days before they take a further COVID-19 test.

It is important to highlight there have been 2,740 negative results so far, around 99.5 per cent.

Up to 60 people from each club will now be tested from the next round, twice a week, in line with an agreement to resume contact training.

When can we expect a decision on a restart date?

The Premier League says a proposed restart on June 12 remains flexible.

Speaking on The Football Show, Sky Sports football expert Gary Neville said: “Two or three weeks on top of the fitness work they’ve been doing at home feels about right. June 12 feels a touch early but there’s no reason to go beyond June 19 for a restart.”

Administrators want to avoid changing dates too much and, if everything goes to plan with contact training and further rounds of testing, a third vote, on a specific date, is expected in due course.

Could the season still end early?

“Curtailment is still a possibility”, reiterated Richard Masters, the Premier League chief executive, last Friday.

In other words, the Premier League is still weighing up what will happen if they cannot fulfil their remaining 92 games.

The Football Association, as a special shareholder, can have the final say on promotion and relegation but it has never indicated it will intervene in the running of the Premier League.

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OFI Crete’s Adil Nabi itching for football in Greece to restart

OFI Crete forward Adil Nabi says he is “itching” to return to action with the Greek Super League scheduled to restart in a fortnight after the Europe-wide suspension of football due to the coronavirus.

Birmingham-born Nabi made the switch from Dundee to OFI Crete in January of last year, reuniting the ex-England youth international with former West Brom team-mate Georgios Samaras, who is director of football at the Greek top-tier side.

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The 26-year-old became an instant fan favourite, netting four times in his first eight starts – including a goal-of-the-season contender away at soon-to-be-crowned Greek champions Olympiakos – to ensure OFI avoided relegation from the top flight.

Nabi has since won numerous player and goal of the week awards to firmly establish himself as one of the Greek Super League’s most promising talents, but has seen his development stunted by the shutdown of football in the country.

“You take football for granted beforehand,” he told Sky Sports News.

“It’s something you do for a long, long time but when it was taken away from us – from anyone who watches it or plays it – you just can’t wait (to get back).

“You appreciate it a lot more and when we get back onto the pitch – obviously it’s going to be behind closed doors – it’s going to be fantastic to play a competitive game after such a long while.

“Personally I’m itching. I can’t wait to go and play some football and hopefully carry on where I left off and bang some goals in.”

Premier League clubs will vote on Wednesday over whether to resume contact training ahead of a potential restart, but Nabi is already back in training with his team-mates and offered an insight into what that might look like for players in England in the near-term.

“We’ve been training now for two weeks,” the West Brom academy graduate said.

“In the first weeks it was groups of five to eight players and in the past week we’ve had full group sessions with the squad, so it’s been decent. In terms of the on-field stuff, it’s back to normal but we still can’t use the changing room or have full use of the training facility.

“We get tested twice a week and have temperatures and a swab test before and after each training session. So, it’s not quite back to normal off the pitch, but on it, we can do set pieces, we work on shape and do pretty much everything at the minute.

“At first, I was quite uncomfortable going back to training, it was more of the enthusiasm to get back playing to be honest, but the way they have done things here has been second to none.”

Nabi is a practising Muslim and was speaking to Sky Sports News on Eid al Fitr, marking the end of the holy month Ramadan, which is a period of fasting, prayer and reflection.

“The last 30 days I’ve been going through the month of Ramadan and today was Eid, which is a celebration,” he added.

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Coronavirus: Newcastle club doctor Paul Catterson opens up on players’ return to training

Newcastle club doctor Paul Catterson opened up to Sky Sports News about the “surreal” return to training and how the players are feeling about the Premier League’s resumption.

Steve Bruce’s side began phase one of training on Tuesday, which sees players work in small groups while following social distancing guidelines.

Contact training will be the next stage, while the Premier League remains flexible on the proposed return date of June 12.

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Catterson admits there are nerves within the camp about how a matchday might play out, but he also spoke of the relief after all players and staff at Newcastle tested negative after the first round of coronavirus testing.

“There was a general relief when everyone found that out. We have got to rule against complacency and remain vigilant in all of this to keep that good work going,” he said.

“It just takes one or two results coming out to cause a bit of worry in the group.

“Different players have different worries about it so it’s about trying to reassure them and show them that we are trying to be as safe as possible.

“There’s a little bit of excitement [at training] because it looks like we are on the right track and football will hopefully be restarting again.

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“Each phase is bringing new challenges and we are trying to pre-empt what some of those might be.

“There’s a nervousness around what the games might look like but also about our travel and accommodation.

“There’s so many different facets to think about but, although it’s a challenge, they are good challenges now.”

For Catterson, the two-month hiatus has posed challenges to his own role, with the club doctor forced to keep in touch with the players via an app, Orreco, to track their health and keep a close eye on sleep and nutrition.

Catterson said it has proved to be a “surreal” scenario, but he praised the players for their adaptability and willingness to keep in shape during lockdown.

Back to business ✌️ pic.twitter.com/xJWyQscwDA

“It has been surreal times but I am amazed by the players and they have certainly come back in a great mood,” he added. “They are just relieved to get back on the grass and not be running on the treadmill.

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Football transfer news, rumours, reports and gossip

Looking for transfer rumours and gossip? Get the latest all in one place.

Arsenal transfer rumours

Sergio Reguilon, Dejan Lovren, Dani Ceballos and more…

Chelsea transfer rumours

Manuel Neuer, Philippe Coutinho, Tiemoue Bakayoko and more…

Everton transfer rumours

Adrien Rabiot, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Jean-Clair Todibo and more…

Liverpool transfer rumours

Timo Werner, Sadio Mane, Kalidou Koulibaly and more…

Man City transfer rumours

Harry Kane, Lautaro Martinez, Lucas Martinez Quarta and more…

Man Utd transfer rumours

Donny van de Beek, James Maddison, Jude Bellingham, Alexis Sanchez and more…

Newcastle transfer rumours

Jesse Lingard? Philippe Coutinho? Edinson Cavani? The latest takeover-fuelled links…

Tottenham transfer rumours

Ivan Rakitic, Willian, Jan Vertonghen and more…

Transfer news by team

Looking for the latest on your club? Check out team-by-team news from the Premier League, Championship, Leagues One and Two and the Scottish Premiership.

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Gary Neville: Loan reform over B teams to help EFL after pandemic

A reform of the loan system should be utilised instead of Premier League B teams to help the EFL post-coronavirus, Gary Neville told The Football Show.

Media reports on Wednesday claimed the subject of introducing B teams into the Football League pyramid had been raised in recent discussions between the EFL, FA and Premier League, although an EFL spokesperson said there was “no appetite whatsoever” to bring them into the professional landscape.

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Neville, who is a part-owner of League Two side Salford City, added his opposition to the idea but said a reform of the loan system could provide a “half-way house” solution to help lower-league sides hit by financial problems due to the coronavirus outbreak.

“[B teams] have been resisted previously when those sort of ideas have been mentioned,” he said. “I personally would still resist it, to maintain the integrity of having a pyramid with promotion and relegation, which has been a fantastic thing for this country for the last 100-odd years, and people enjoy it.

“Whether you’re a supporter of Rochdale, Oldham, Manchester United or Liverpool, you’re proud of your club and the fact it stands on its own two feet.

“Maybe there could be a happy medium, and I’ve heard it suggested at some of the League Two meetings a few weeks ago, where it would be very helpful if Premier League and Championship clubs with more money, maybe not at this time but generally, could loan players down to league One and League Two for no money.

“Mainly the clubs in those two leagues would ordinarily charge for those players, so I think if they wanted to relieve some economic pain, you could potentially have – not partnerships – but a way in which Premier League and Championship clubs could soften the economic problems for those clubs in the lower divisions by not charging for players.

“If you could allow four or five players into, let’s say for example Salford, it would relieve hundreds of thousands of pounds a year. It’d be the same for Stevenage, Macclesfield, Oldham, every club in League One and League Two. That would be a half-way house between losing the integrity of the lower-league clubs and staying as it is at this moment in time.

“Maybe it could be a draft system or something whereby you can’t have more than one player from a certain club. It could be worked in such a way to make it beneficial, maybe a draft system to spread it out.”

Salary cap will be ‘game-changer’

Neville added the discussions over a salary cap in the lower leagues of the EFL would mark a sea change in the finances of the divisions, with proposals sent to clubs in League One and League Two earlier this week over how they might be introduced.

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Celtic manager Neil Lennon plays down need for signings

Celtic manager Neil Lennon says he’s not sure whether the newly crowned Scottish Premiership champions need to make any new signings ahead of their quest for a 10th consecutive title.

Monday’s decision to call the Premiership early amid the coronavirus pandemic and declare Celtic champions for a ninth successive season has allowed Lennon to begin planning for the next campaign.

“We don’t know how the transfer window is going to look and what length of time it will be, and what the budget is going to be, and what other clubs’ budget is going to be as well,” Lennon told the Press Association.

“I am really happy with the squad, I am not sure we need to do a lot of rebuilding at all, if at all.

“But again you don’t know what the landscape is going to look like with bringing players in.”

Lennon is set to lose loan players Fraser Forster, Mohamed Elyounoussi and Moritz Bauer, while the likes of Jonny Hayes and Craig Gordon are soon out of contract.

The Celtic boss would no doubt be keen to keep Forster if a deal can be done with Southampton and he has other players in his squad who could offer more next term.

January signings Ismaila Soro and Patryk Klimala have yet to establish themselves and the likes of right-back Hatem Abd Elhamed and striker Vakoun Bayo were just coming back from injury when the season was suspended.

Much could depend on how much interest develops in top goalscorer Odsonne Edouard, with his potential departure likely to increase the budget for new arrivals.

Football at all levels in Scotland is suspended until June 10, with Celtic set to resume training on that date barring further push backs.

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Coronation Street’s gay footballer storyline changing conversation on homophobia

Weatherfield County’s James Bailey has felt increasingly weighed down in recent weeks.

The young footballer’s personal struggles have been an ongoing storyline in Britain’s most-watched soap opera, Coronation Street. James received support when he came out as gay to his mum and brother last year, but after telling his dad Ed in February, the reaction was far from positive. A social media slip-up then saw rumours begin to circulate around the County fanbase, leading to James deflecting awkward questions from the club’s manager and press officer.

With the soap having been stretched longer across the schedules due to the pandemic, James’ difficulties have been prolonged – and last Friday, a confrontation on the cobbles with a supporter who was making homophobic taunts threatened to turn violent.

For Nathan Graham, the actor who plays James, the character arc is now approaching a critical moment. “It’s like this pressure cooker, all in there bubbling away,” says Graham. “When this fan comes over and gives him abuse, it’s too much and he lashes out.

“James has still got the issue of his dad not accepting him. He’s not publicly out because he’s not ready for that. So he takes a step back and realises he needs to readdress his approach to the whole thing. As people, we can only take so much before we get to our tipping point.”

Graham is speaking to Sky Sports to mark the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia, an annual awareness day that has been observed for over 15 years. The theme for May 17 in 2020 is ‘Breaking The Silence’, and falls at a time when James’ journey in Corrie has become a major talking point for the soap’s 8m viewers and for a wider audience too. In the absence of a visible gay or bi role model in men’s professional football in the UK, the story will be having a particularly significant impact on anyone who sees themselves reflected in James.

“Soaps and TV dramas are good at raising awareness on topics that aren’t necessarily out there,” says Graham. “If it starts to create conversations within different communities or areas of the football world, and if young kids are watching who play football and who might be gay themselves, it shows it’s important to shine a light on this subject.”

Growing up in the 1990s and early 2000s, Jehmeil Lemonius would have benefited from such representation. He’s now the Diversity and Inclusion Officer at the Football Association and has been playing as a forward for Stonewall FC – the UK’s first gay football club, currently playing at Step 7 of the non-League pyramid – for several years. As a teenager, Lemonius’ talent could have taken him into the professional ranks, but to make that happen he also needed considerable self-confidence – and that was harder to come by.

“If I look back and think about my experiences when I was younger, and I was trying to come to terms with my own sexual orientation, it was a very confusing time,” says Lemonius. “I didn’t know anybody who looked like me who may or may not have been gay. The only one that was sort of around was Justin Fashanu, whose life obviously ended very tragically. That’s not the kind of experience that you’d want to impact on you while you’re navigating who you are.”

In February, Fashanu was posthumously inducted into the National Football Museum’s Hall of Fame, an occasion that was both celebratory and poignant. After the journeyman striker took his own life in 1998, his complex story was frequently distilled down to a simple cautionary tale, one that had a disconcerting effect on the next generation.

“A lot of my difficulties were in trying to find a sense of belonging in the football community whilst knowing that being gay was this element of my identity that didn’t reconcile,” says Lemonius. “It was a challenge and I think if I’d had that reconciliation, my experience would have been overwhelmingly more positive.

“It points to the power of visibility and you can’t ever underestimate that. You can’t be what you can’t see and unless you have those positive role models in place, people are always going to feel like elements of their identities aren’t valid in certain spaces.”

The intertwining of both homophobia and racism in the Fashanu story has made him a totemic figure in the fight against discrimination; a charitable foundation in Justin’s name was recently launched by his niece Amal. Graham believes the Coronation Street storyline involving James has a grounding in that legacy but fits the modern men’s professional game, with its high percentage of black players. “Representation matters. Somebody could be watching the show and see a mirror of themselves, especially if they’re a young black man who’s gay.”

He hopes viewers gain a greater understanding of what constitutes discrimination and how to address it. James’ father Ed has previously told his son he should hide his sexuality in order to avoid homophobia, making the contrast between how neither of them can hide their race and so have to deal with racism.

However, when Ed is on the receiving end of racist comments at work, it sets off a chain of events that make him think differently about what his son is going through. “Unfortunately, homophobic and racist abuse still happen, but a footballer like James shouldn’t have to feel they’re alone in experiencing that,” says Graham.

Lemonius is encouraged by the deeper nuance that’s being explored in the soap – an intersectional approach. “As I’ve come out and navigated that journey, I’ve always felt more conscious of being black before being gay, particularly in LGBT spaces. These are two different barriers that someone like James would definitely have to come to terms with. You can add on top of that somebody who might have a disability, or be of a different gender.”

Welcoming cultures, winning mentalities

To help Graham learn more about the experience of being a sportsman who’s gay, the rugby league player Keegan Hirst – who came out publicly in 2015 – talked him through some of the parallels between his own journey and that of James. “The scale of the two sports is obviously very different,” says Graham, “but from what Keegan said, it sounds like the RFL has a zero tolerance towards homophobia within their sport, which made him feel like the environment was safe for him to come out. I feel like within football, it’s not a zero tolerance.”

In his job, Lemonius helps to deliver the FA’s ‘In Pursuit of Progress’ objectives, which feature a strong commitment to supporting LGBT+ inclusion in football. He’s encouraged by the progress that’s been made – “the game’s going in the right direction” – but with such low visibility in the British men’s game, it can be difficult to demonstrate the need to have that particular conversation.

“There can be a victimless mentality – a feeling that ‘we can’t be homophobic, because there aren’t actually any gay, bi or questioning players on the pitch to be homophobic towards’. A character like James Bailey helps people understand that they do exist in men’s football – and they could be players or coaches, as well as fans.”

That victimless mentality maintains a status quo. “LGBT people tend to suppress a lot of trauma and discrimination anyway, on a daily basis in some cases. It means that for someone experiencing a microaggression or smaller form of homophobia that’s more covert, the chances they’re going to report it or speak out about it are quite slim.” Meanwhile, players who aren’t LGBT and who experience those same microaggressions are even less likely to report them – and so the culture persists.

Within every football environment, there are key individuals who shape and control those cultures, and they can help to reduce the pressure on players. “Ultimately, they’re just athletes – they’ve been training their whole lives to play football and that’s all they want to do,” says Lemonius. “But if they’re able to be their authentic selves as well, we’re going to get the most out of them. I’m hoping we can really empower coaches to create those environments, but we’re battling against years and years of cultures, and it takes time.

“We all want to enhance and maximise the performance of athletes, and that doesn’t just go for being LGBT. Pretty much all of the men’s England squad are people of colour, so when England play in countries where there’s racist abuse, that’s obviously going to have an impact on the team’s performance. The way the country rallied around the whole squad after they played in Bulgaria last November was really powerful – for them to know that all their identities are valid, that identity is a strength not a weakness. I think coaching is recognising that, by moving away from archaic methods and shifting towards a psychological element.”

Little things can make a really big impact… asking people inclusive questions – just leaving the door ajar so they know you’re a trusted person that they can talk to about anything.

Jehmeil Lemonius on creating welcoming cultures

In forthcoming episodes, James will get the opportunity to be more open with his team-mates, and the reaction of his club skipper at Weatherfield County will be crucial. Finding truth in that scenario matters a great deal to Graham and the Corrie team. “If the captain – the leader – is accepting, then if anyone else gives James flak, he’s going to come down on them and say no, that’s not how it’s done here,” says the actor. “I think that’s a good thing to showcase. Breaking the silence is about feeling supported – when you’re ready, you’re ready. There should be no timeframe put on anybody to come out and nobody should feel pressured to do so.”

With Mental Health Awareness Week beginning on Monday, there’s a correlation to other situations that could be causing distress in the dressing room. In his work, Lemonius suggests practical ways to offer assistance on a wide range of topics, and he looks towards senior players to set an example. “For LGBT+ inclusion, we talk about allyship and it’s the same – whether you’re supporting a player who’s going through some financial difficulties; a player having problems with their partner, or family troubles – all of these are about being a good team-mate, and absolutely skippers help to set those cultures in clubs.

“But there can be a disconnect on LGBT+. Particularly when I deliver training at academy level, I find the players are used to having gay, bi and trans people in their schools and they’re getting education that’s inclusive now as well. But when they go back to the academy, it’s not spoken about and that ranges from captains through to coaches and managers. Ultimately it comes down to culture.

“I find sometimes little things make a really big impact. For example, asking people really inclusive questions – just leaving the door ajar so they know you’re a trusted person that they can talk to about anything. It could be the type of language that you use. If people feel comfortable talking to you about other personal issues, then you’re already creating an environment that’s inclusive. You might then feel they’re holding on to something else.”

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As James’ story unfolds and he becomes less reticent, Graham has focused on achieving an honest portrayal. “Within life, we all struggle with certain things, and we hide those we don’t want people to see. For me, it was about really trying to own the struggle of the character, to not be disingenuous, and to feel the weight of each circumstance.

“As a black man myself, I’ve received little bits of racist abuse but I’ve never felt I had to report it – it’s never been too much that I couldn’t handle. You can draw on those situations and then imagine what it would be like if it was even worse.”

The drama will intensify for James in the coming week, both within his family circle and among his team-mates. Yet despite the many challenges facing his character, Graham insists Coronation Street is mindful of its responsibility to be constructive. The story arc’s conclusion is expected to support the work being done by Lemonius and his FA colleagues.

“It’s important to highlight the barriers that still exist, and it’s not always easy,” says Lemonius, “but ultimately, I don’t know any LGBT person that’s ever come out and regretted it.”

Outside of Corrie and the club’s fictional fanbase, Weatherfield County’s James Bailey will not be a familiar football name – but the character might yet have a legacy of his own. “I just think back to when I was 15 and if I saw this storyline on TV, I don’t know where I’d be now,” says Lemonius.

“I’m hopeful that a lot of young people will be really inspired. This storyline says that there isn’t just one type of LGBT person – and without a doubt, there are LGBT people in men’s football.”

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Austrian league leaders LASK Linz accused of breaking coronavirus rules

Austrian league leaders LASK Linz have been accused by their rivals of holding training sessions which break coronavirus rules.

The Austrian Bundesliga says it is investigating LASK Linz for breaking rules on training during the coronavirus pandemic – but the club have themselves complained that they have been victims of industrial espionage.

Clubs in Austria are only supposed to hold training for small groups of players under social distancing regulations before full training begins on Friday.

But the league says it has been sent multiple videos showing a regular team training session which supposedly took place recently.

Eleven of the 12 teams in the Austrian Bundesliga said they had been presented with “clear video material” that showed LASK had ignored guidelines which restrict training to small groups of players.

A joint statement from the teams said: “These videos clearly show that the league leaders have disregarded the guidelines for small group training set by the ministry (of sports).”

The clubs said they “dissociated ourselves from this behaviour and will continue to adhere strictly to the government’s guidelines. The responsible and safe continuation of the Bundesliga competition remains a top priority”.

Red Bull Salzburg commercial director Stephan Reiter says the second-place club is shocked and stunned at LASK’s conduct.

“For many months we have been working so hard together. Obviously, not all clubs and individuals are aware of this great responsibility,” Salzburg added.

LASK managing director Andreas Protil told the APA news agency that two men had broken into the club’s training ground overnight and installed video surveillance cameras, adding that the incident had been reported to the police.

Protil said: “We are shocked that there are obviously third parties who are willing to break into our club premises with criminal energy in order to carry out industrial espionage. The perpetrators were filmed and are now being investigated.”

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Bundesliga under ‘considerable pressure’ ahead of season return, says Raphael Honigstein

The Bundesliga is under “considerable pressure” as it prepares to become the first major European league to return to action amid the coronavirus pandemic, says German football expert Raphael Honigstein.

Football in Germany has been suspended since March due to the crisis, but with lockdown measures eased, the authorities have given the green light for the campaign to continue on Saturday.

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League organisers need the remaining games to be played to ensure they satisfy rights holders, says Honigstein, who adds if the return to action is a failure others leagues may opt to abandon their seasons.

Speaking to Sky Sports News, Honigstein said: “There is considerable pressure.

“First of all, the pressure comes internally because they needed to get back to those games. There was a real financial need to make sure that games could be staged otherwise the TV rights payers were reluctant to pay out.

“They now need to justify this with a medical concept. The whole of football is trying to see if Germany can act as a trailblazer in all of this.

“There’s the added pressure of perhaps being able to show a light but if failure were to happen I think the other leagues would be hugely discouraged. It would be really difficult for anybody to come back in Europe in Germany can’t pull it off.”

Virtual news conferences, extensive testing and no hugs

The Bundesliga is implementing new measures to ensure the safety of players and to minimise the risk of anyone involved returning a positive test during the return to action.

“The system of the league revolves around two principles,” Honigstein continued.

“One, minimising the number of people in the ground and that is why Germany head coach Joachim Lowe is not essentially considered personnel, unlike a couple of ball boys he can’t get in.

First weekend fixtures

“Only 10 journalists can get in. Virtual press conferences will replace the real ones. You can WhatsApp a question to the coach and then hear the answer on the television, so not really the usual.

“Also there will be no mixed zones, so no real opportunities to mingle with the players after the game. There’s also a very extensive testing regime, making sure players have a lot of tests.

“But also when they are together minimise the risks by making sure they take their own car to home games and not having them celebrate, no hugging or kissing after goals. Also not using showers.”

Which Bundesliga team should you support?

Do you know your Fahrstuhlmannschafts from your Stadtrivalen? Well if you are a Premier League fan at a loss for who to support when the Bundesliga comes back this weekend, we have got the perfect guide for who you should support. All you have got to do is buy the shirt and learn the chants!

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Newcastle transfer news and rumours

The latest transfer news and gossip on the players linked with Newcastle amid their proposed takeover – and those who could leave the club.

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The latest players linked with a move to Newcastle…

Gareth Bale – Newcastle’s prospective new owners have earmarked the Real Madrid forward as their priority summer signing (Daily Mail, May 11); Newcastle are prepared to spend £53m to bring the Welshman back to the Premier League (Daily Mail, May 13)

Odsonne Edourard – Newcastle have earmarked the Celtic striker as a potential new signing (Daily Express, May 13)

Odion Ighalo – Newcastle are interested in making a shock transfer move for the on-loan Man Utd striker once their £300m takeover is complete (Daily Express, May 11)

Edinson Cavani – Newcastle are also ready to join the race for the PSG striker, who is soon to be out of contract. Atletico Madrid, Boca Juniors, Flamengo and Palmeiras are also said to be keen (Footmercato, April 26); Newcastle have been linked with a move for the PSG forward among a host of big-name players (Newcastle Chronicle, May 10)

Valentino Lazaro – The Inter loanee’s agent has suggested he could remain at Newcastle beyond the end of the season, saying: “We will see what happens later.” (Inter Dipendenza, May 8)

Kalidou Koulibaly – Newcastle’s new-found financial power under their new owners could convince Koulibaly to join the club (Daily Star, May 8); Newcastle have opened talks with Napoli over the defender also linked with Manchester United and Manchester City – but he would cost in the region of £70m (Footmercato, April 26)

Jesse Lingard – The Manchester United midfielder could make a cut-price move to St James’ Park, with his contract up in June 2021 (Daily Mail, May 2).

Donny van de Beek – Newcastle have emerged as surprise contenders for the signature of 23-year-old Ajax midfielder, who has been linked with Manchester United and Real Madrid (Le10Sport, April 29)

Radja Nainggolan – Newcastle will make a move for the 32-year-old Belgian midfielder, who currently plays for Cagliari on loan from Inter Milan (Calciomercato, April 27)

Philippe Coutinho – Newcastle will move for Coutinho if Mauricio Pochettino is appointed as manager (Daily Mirror, May 3); Newcastle are set to enter the Premier League-dominated race for the Barcelona forward on loan at Bayern Munich (Daily Star, April 27)

Nabil Fekir – The Real Betis forward is one of Newcastle’s top summer targets, according to reports in France but the Spanish club will only be ready to start talking at 50m euros (Footmercato, April 26)

Fabio Borini – Newcastle, Crystal Palace and Aston Villa are keen to take the former Sunderland striker on a free transfer from Hellas Verona (Tutto Hellas Verona, April 25)

Managers linked with a move to Newcastle…

Mauricio Pochettino – Newcastle’s prospective new owners have made the Argentine their number one choice to be the next manager at St. James’ Park and are willing to pay him £19m a year to take charge (Sky Sports, April 29); Newcastle will have to pay Tottenham £12.5m if they appoint the Argentine as manager this month – but they can sign him for nothing after May 31 (ESPN, May 5)

Rafa Benitez – The former Magpies boss has been identified as an alternative if first choice Pochettino is unavailable (Sky Sports, April 29)

The latest players linked with a Newcastle exit…

Javier Manquillo – Fenerbahce will make a move for the Newcastle right-back as they look to replace Mauricio Isla this summer (Fotomac, April 14)

Jamie Sterry, Jack Colback and Rob Elliot – All three players are set to leave the club on free transfers this summer (Newcastle Chronicle, April 12)

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