EXCLUSIVE: Premier League clubs stunned by ‘absolutely crazy’ decision to keep social distancing changing rooms as they struggle to solve logistical nightmare less than three weeks before the start of the season
- Premier League clubs believed they could resume home and away dressing rooms when the new season starts
- But the Premier League has changed its mind and will continue to require social distancing changing rooms
- Many clubs have built temporary structures to accommodate visiting teams and comply with Covid-19 protocols
- Return of supporters to stadiums makes the situation a logistical nightmare for many clubs with the big kick-off now less than three weeks away
The Premier League is on a collision course with some of its clubs after making an apparent turnaround in dressing rooms less than three weeks before the start of the new season.
Sides had thought it would be normal for the campaign to kick off on August 14, with temporary social distancing facilities being a thing of the past and the original home and away changing rooms being put back into use.
However, sources have revealed that the top flight has now told its clubs that changing rooms should be socially distancing again, leading many to consider returning to banquet suites, bars and cabins in car parks.
Covid-19 rules will continue to affect Premier League clubs ahead of the new campaign, with social distancing changing rooms as the facilities still needed
With fans due to attend, there are serious concerns that clubs are facing a logistical nightmare, with some known to be in turmoil over the move.
Some have already informed the league that they have no intention of going back to last year’s agreements, while others have pointed out that it would be ‘impossible’ to do so given the return of fans.
Some are even believed to have begun dismantling facilities and be stunned by the vaulting face.
Teams went out separately before the games instead of side by side
“It’s absolutely crazy,” said one official. “Last week there was a phone call between the league and all the facilities guys and there was no mention of it.
“We were told weeks ago that everything would be back to normal. Some clubs have started tearing down the facilities they used last season and now they are being told this? It’s not fair and it makes no sense.’
Many clubs with older stadiums had to make new agreements last season. Manchester United and Everton created temporary facilities for visitors outside their grounds.
Burnley’s players walk away alone for a Premier League match with Leedss last season
Aston Villa let the away team use the media room and in Leeds the visiting side used a bar and then came to the pitch via stairs in the stadium. Chelsea hosted their opponents at a nearby leisure center.
With the return of supporters, returning to such lineups will be incredibly challenging.
Sports post understands that clubs are preparing letters to the Premier League rejecting the proposal.
Other anti-Covid measures, such as protective equipment, remain for next season
Premier League sources say they are continuing to go through the protocols and no decisions have been made. They add that work is underway and say they are working to find solutions with clubs where safety is a priority at a time when the number of cases is still high.
In June, the Premier League said it would remain agile in the changing environment and take emergency measures if necessary.