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Premier League groundstaff adopt extreme measures to keep pitches COVID-19 free

  • Premier League ground staff have taken extreme measures to combat COVID-19.
  • Premier League clubs resume training today under the guidelines of Project Restart.
Ashish Thomas
CONTRIBUTOR
News
Modified 19 May 2020, 21:47 IST

PL groundstaff have adopted extreme measures to facilitate the return of the English top-flight
PL groundstaff have adopted extreme measures to facilitate the return of the English top-flight

The Premier League in a meeting yesterday got the wheels of Project Restart rolling by allowing clubs to resume training sessions in small groups. This is part of a three-step process to bring top-flight football back to England.

The English Premier League (EPL) clubs are taking the appropriate precautions to enable social distancing measures during training sessions. However, COVID-19 can be contracted from any surface due to which stringent safety precautions need to be followed.

Premier League ground staff battle against COVID-19

Stamford Bridge being prepared ahead of an upcoming match
Stamford Bridge being prepared ahead of an upcoming match

One thing Premier League teams are looking to do to stave off COVID-19 is by taking special care of the grass on the pitches.

This grass will contain the sweat, blood, sputum, and sometimes even the skin of players after training sessions as well as matches. That's where the groundsmen will play an important role in cleaning up after players.

Premier League ground staff are well-versed in tackling bacteria and diseases but, those tend to affect the grass, not humans. The ground staff have always been battling to maintain the flowing, green carpets that we see today on modern pitches. Gone are the days when pitches were not watered against bigger teams.

So, to deal with the additional problem of keeping the pitches safe for the players, the EPL ground staff have a Whatsapp group where they are brainstorming ideas with regard to this.

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One idea being discussed is adapting the present technology used for maintaining grass to combat this dangerous disease. Ground staff around the world generally use UV-C lights/lamps to prevent affecting the grass.

But, after consultation with health experts, the ground staff are looking to use UVC180 lighting system, which is more intense than UV-C lighting in combatting COVID-19. The EPL ground staff are also looking at sterilising the field with grass friendly disinfectants.

Another issue on the back of their minds is the issue of the resurfacing the pitches, which is generally an activity which takes place during the off-season. It involves relaying the pitch with a fresh sandbed, reseeding, etc. and normally takes ten weeks to complete.

Some Premier League clubs took a gamble and started this work during the two-month hiatus. But, the EPL clubs that chose to hold off on this work face the issue of colder weather depending on the end of the current season.

This is among the challenges faced by probably the most non-remembered of essential staff, and they will look to deal with it without the spotlight.

Premier League clubs enjoy return to training

Aerial views of Melwood training ground as football remains suspended due to coronavirus
Aerial views of Melwood training ground as football remains suspended due to coronavirus

Premier League clubs have started training today under Step 1 of Project Restart, which involves small training groups. The clubs will be looking to ensure that this step is a success so that they can proceed to the next one, which is contact training.

The EPL would also have heaved a huge sigh of relief after the relatively successful restart of the Bundesliga over the weekend gone by. This will have gone down well at Premier League headquarters and would help them in getting the requisite permissions for a successful completion of Project Restart.

The socially distant goal celebrations in Germany has also set the precedent for the rest of the leagues to follow suit. The Premier League will look to implement such measures as, as the English top-flight edges closer to a much-awaited return.

They also would have seen how the players celebrated goals socially distant and would look to implement such measures and protocols into updated rules and regulations.


Published 19 May 2020, 21:47 IST
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