Players must turn up in kit to train as EFL clubs grapple with Covid guidelines

Players must arrive for training sessions already in their kit as part of updated coronavirus protocols emailed to all clubs by the EFL.

The measures essentially revert to steps taken upon the initial outbreak of the virus and clubs face an increased risk of being sanctioned if they are found to be in breach of the new guidelines.

Indoor facilities including changing rooms and canteens must be closed, gymnasiums and other indoor areas only used if well-ventilated, and clubs have been asked to consider using separate or multiple vehicles to travel to fixtures.

EFL
The EFL has beefed up its existing coronavirus protocols (Nigel French/PA)

The measures come in the midst of soaring Covid-19 rates and an increasing number of postponements, with eight games across Leagues One and Two called off due to the impact of the virus in last Tuesday’s schedule alone.

While individual circumstances, including the financial implications of excess transportation, prevent the EFL presenting the new protocols as uniformly unbreachable, the PA news agency understands it will clamp down more keenly on affected clubs who are seen to have flouted its guidelines.

Each postponement for coronavirus issues is subject to an individual investigation by the league, with the potential for fines or points deductions if clubs are found not to have sufficient cause for calling off fixtures – or to have done so having contravened best practice.

Doncaster Rovers v Shrewsbury Town – Sky Bet League One – Keepmoat Stadium
Doncaster’s game against Fleetwood was among seven League One fixtures postponed on Tuesday alone (Zac Goodwin/PA)

Individual investigations into coronavirus postponements are yet to be concluded, but some clubs have expressed concern over the pressure to fulfil fixtures.

Rotherham called two games off over Christmas after five players were affected by the virus, but manager Paul Warne said they felt obliged to play Tuesday’s fixture against Barnsley, for which they named just six players on the bench.

Speaking prior to the game, which Rotherham lost 2-1, Warne said: “I was advised that if we did not play the game, there would be retribution because I am going against medical advice.

Fleetwood Town v Sunderland – Sky Bet League One – Highbury Stadium
EFL clubs are battling to adapt to new coronavirus protocols (Zac Goodwin/PA)

“There was a fine with a possibility of a points deduction, which I do not want hanging over our heads.”

Returning to the theme in a press conference ahead of Saturday’s game against Cardiff, Warne gave an insight into the issues facing EFL clubs as they come to terms with the newly tightened guidelines.

“The EFL rules have changed again so now we are having to take three buses to every game,” said Warne. “No one is allowed in the gym, no indoor stuff, (and) the lads have to take their kit home and come in it to training.”

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