New guidelines from the UK government mean that Premier League players and coaches will have to isolate for 10 days after traveling overseas, complicating the schedules of teams still in the Champions League and Europa League.
Before Sunday’s new restrictions were specified for all 20 Premier League clubs, unveiled by the Athletic, there were no targeted guidelines for players and staff returning from trips abroad.
The 10 day period can be shortened by half if a player or employee can pass a negative Covid-19 test after five days of isolation.
But beyond training and competition, a mandatory 10-day quarantine is now required for all overseas travel for club or international football.
Premier League teams have been told to isolate for 10 days before traveling overseas, thus helping Champions League teams like Liverpool (right) navigate the rules
Manchester United is still active in the Europa League and has a squad full of internationals
Organizing international football during the pandemic is becoming increasingly complex as countries impose different travel restrictions.
The UK has allowed a blanket exemption for elite athletes traveling to this country from most countries in Europe, allowing European cup ties to continue largely unimpeded until now.
However, travel from ‘red list countries’, where coronavirus variants are of serious concern, including South America and Portugal, are not exempt for elite athletes and women.
This means Arsenal’s Europa League opponents, Benfica, will not be able to travel to the UK for their round of 32 match in London, so the match will be played in Athens this week. And the ‘red list’ will pose problems for players looking to participate in international matches next month.
But those are just the UK restrictions.
Due to travel restrictions in Spain, Manchester United’s Europa League match against Real Sociedad was moved to Turin. Likewise, Liverpool were unable to travel to Leipzig for their Champions League match for the last 16 earlier this month due to regulations in Germany banning most travelers from countries, including the UK, which have been hit hard by new variants of Covid -19. The game was played in Budapest.
During the isolation period, players and staff would only be eligible to leave their home for competition.
It puts football in line with the rest of the UK population when it comes to returning to the country.
The new rules also take away the quarantine exemption for recruiting new players and coaching appointments.
Last month, Thomas Tuchel traveled from Germany to succeed Frank Lampard at Chelsea and immediately became part of the first-team bubble, taking advantage of the quarantine exemption.
But if he were to join now, he would have to wait a minimum of five days and then submit a negative Covid-19 test before being eligible to participate.
This not only poses additional complications for teams in the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Europa League, but also presents a number of challenges for players preparing to be called up for international service.
Players must remain in their sporting bubble at all times during their international service. Failure to do so would lead to a period of isolation upon their return.
Any trip outside of a sports bubble on a trip abroad would invalidate any quarantine exemption and those players and coaches would then have to isolate themselves for 10 days.
The UK government guidelines, first introduced in November, stipulate that individuals should not be allowed to exercise outside of the home, go to the supermarket or travel in taxis where, in a period of isolation and violation of those results, they could lead to fines of as much as £ 10,000.
The guidance explains that an individual must isolate themselves, apart from when they cparticipation in or training for a top sporting event; provide essential support to a top domestic athlete in their competition or training; or providing essential operational support in organizing a top sporting event.
Thomas Tuchel flew over from Germany to become Chelsea boss and he avoided a period in quarantine by taking advantage of an exemption that has been withdrawn under the new rules.
Arsenal played against Benfica in Rome and in Thursday’s return game they will go to Piraeus, Greece
Elite athletes – domestic
You must complete the passenger locator form before traveling to the UK.
You must take a coronavirus test before traveling to the UK.
If you have been in a high-risk “ red list ” country in the past 10 days, you should quarantine at a government-approved hotel and have a coronavirus test on day 2 and day 8 if you are in a You have been traveling through a red list country in the 10 days before arriving in the UK.
For all other arrivals
You do not need to take a coronavirus test on days 2 and 8 after arriving in the UK. You must isolate yourself, except when you:
* Participate in or train for a top sporting event, or
* Provide essential support to a top domestic athlete in their competition or training, or
* Provide essential operational support in running a top sporting event
You can leave the isolation to travel directly to or between the locations of top sporting events or training where you perform your duties as a top athlete.
You must provide written evidence from a UK or English national governing body for your sport confirming both your status as a top athlete who has traveled abroad to participate in a top sporting event, if you return these activities or your status as a UK elite athlete who is based abroad and returns to England to participate in elite sports training or competitions.
Player coaches may leave their self-isolation to travel directly to or between the locations of top sporting events such as matches or training where they perform duties as a top athlete.
Both Manchester City and Chelsea are in action in the Champions League this week and the new guidelines will directly affect their return to the UK.
City are off to German side Borussia Mönchengladbach, while Tuchel’s Chelsea will face Atletico Madrid in Bucharest, over Spain’s strict restrictions on British visitors.
Arsenal, which still competes in the Europa League, will take on Benfica in Greece for their second leg in the last 32 as Portugal is on a ‘red list’ of countries drawn up by the UK government amid the ongoing Covid pandemic.
Pep Guardiola City will face Monchengladbach at the Puskas Arena in Hungary for their last 16 first leg on February 24th.
The city is widely expected to enjoy a deep run in the European competition as they have established themselves as one of the favorites for the tournament.
For England international Raheem Sterling, he is one of the players who will have to make multiple trips abroad – and subsequent periods in quarantine – between now and the end of the season.
If City were to make it to the final, Sterling would likely be involved in travel abroad for the last 16, quarter-finals, semi-finals and the final, taking place in Istanbul, Turkey.
England will then have three upcoming World Cup qualifiers, two at Wembley – San Marino and then Poland – and one against Albania in Tirana on March 28.
As such, the winger would look to a five-lot deal of 10-day isolation periods between now and the end of the season for club and country if City reach the Champions League final, a number he could cut in half with a negative Covid- 19 test after five days.
International travel for footballers participating in UEFA or FIFA competitions is made more complicated by the rules also imposed by countries outside the UK.
Other countries, including Spain and Germany, have restricted travel from the UK, meaning English clubs cannot fulfill matches as planned. Manchester United recently played their ‘away’ game against Spain’s Real Socedad in Turin and Liverpool met Leipzig in Budapest.
Raheem Sterling, the Man City and England winger, faces multiple trips to play abroad
Sterling is expected to be part of the England squad for their World Cup qualifier in Albania next month, requiring him to isolate for a minimum of five days when returning to the UK.