Snoop squads will be drafted in by the Premier League to ensure clubs are not bending the rules as players return to training on Tuesday.
A team of inspectors will be deployed, with one at every top flight training ground in a bid to stop rivals from gaining the upper hand by extending practice beyond new time limits and carrying out underhand activities such as holding tactical meetings behind closed doors.
They will also closely monitor clubs’ adherence to rules which state only 40 people – each tested twice a week – are permitted within the inner sanctum.
Premier League clubs will be watched over by snoop squads when they return to training
A wide range of sanctions will be open to the Premier League board should any culprits be identified.
The move comes as Project Restart gathers pace – with a date for a return to be announced potentially as early as next Thursday.
Coronavirus tests have been ongoing at clubs ahead of a return to non-contact training on Tuesday at 2pm.
And it has also emerged that positive results will be shared with the public – although clubs and players will remain anonymous.
Under the terms of Phase One – voted through unanimously at Monday’s meeting of clubs – players will be allowed on the grass for 75 minutes. Premier League director of football Richard Garlick revealed that in the first instance video and GPS data would be requested, before adding that a squad of spies was on the way to ensure any cheats were exposed.
‘We are looking at bringing in our own independent audit inspection team that we’ll scale up over the next few days which will give us the ability to have inspections at training grounds to start with on a no-notice basis,’ he said after the summit.
Inspectors will monitor clubs’ adherence to rules and will be at every top-flight training ground
‘Gradually, we aim to ramp that up so we can have an inspector at every training ground. That will enable us to give everyone confidence that the protocols are being complied with, and give the public confidence that we are trying to create a very safe working environment.’
June 12 has been set as return for Premier League football but Sportsmail understands there is a growing belief within the game that June 19 is more realistic.
Two meetings are planned for next week – on Tuesday and Thursday – and Premier League chief executive Richard Masters, who confirmed that June 12 was ‘flexible’ added that the restart may well be announced at the latter of those.
‘In the spirit of openness, we are flagging up Tuesday as the meeting at which we will discuss (a move to) contact training, and then Thursday, yes, is when we will start looking at the wider issues,’ he said.
The top flight expects to have the first batch of complete results on Tuesday afternoon and will make them public shortly after. Individuals or clubs will not be named but numbers of positive tests and the number of clubs at which they have been recorded will be disclosed.
Arsenal players were pictured in individual training at London Colney earlier this month
Masters also revealed his desire to see the champions – in all likelihood Liverpool – presented with the trophy, despite social distancing fears.
‘If at all possible, we would like to have a presentation to give the players and staff the moment they have worked so hard for,’ he said. ‘We don’t want to lose that, unless it is not possible.’
The Merseyside club will hope to do that at Anfield, and Masters suggested that – as reported by Sportsmail – original rather than neutral venues may well stage the remaining games.
Experiences during the return of the Bundesliga last weekend were promising. ‘There were no fan issues outside the grounds to speak of,’ he said. ‘It’s early days yet – they have only had eight games – but it was interesting to note that.’
Premier League chief Richard Garlick said it’ll give everyone confidence rules are followed
No decision on curtailment plans has been reached. Points per game and weighted points per game are the likely options.
That matter is also likely to be voted on next Thursday. Masters acknowledged that at some point – should there be further delays – action may have to be taken to end the current campaign prematurely.
‘There may come a point when next season becomes difficult to schedule,’ he said.
‘We are not at that point yet. The June return and July finish leaves time for a break for other competitions to be completed and start the season towards end of August or very early September.
‘Obviously, what we want to do is ensure the season is completed in a way which preserves other competitions but also preserves our ability to start and deliver 38 match rounds next season in a proper calendar.’
Contact between players and coaching staff will be off limits during phase one of training
The FA Cup final has been pencilled in for August 8, which may lead to an extra round of midweek games should the restart slip to June 19.
Earlier in the call Dr Mark Gillett, the Premier League’s medical advisor, revealed that social distancing is likely to be the norm for a substantial period.
Under Phase One rules, players will have to use their own cars, leave three spaces between them and another player and arrive in their own kit.
They will also need to bring their own drinks, while communal areas and canteens will be closed. Tactical meetings will be ‘strongly discouraged’, while 15 minutes of treatment will be permitted prior to training.