Professional sport has moved another small step closer to a restart after the government published new guidelines on close-contact training.

Sports have been given the green light to organise short closed quarters sessions within a strictly controlled medical environment.

This is on the understanding that face to face contact is kept to a minimum and social distancing measures are followed for the rest of the time.

Sports Minister Nigel Huddlestone said it is now over to individual sports to organise themselves: "Given the wide ranging input we have received from medical experts, we believe these pragmatic measures should provide further reassurance that a safe, competitive training environment can be delivered."

The government accepts that the risk of transmitting Covid-19 is greater during this stage, so the protocol requires all those involved to follow government guidelines when not at training.

The new guidelines from the UK government is a critical moment for the Premier League. Credit: PA

Namely "adherence to social distancing rules always when away from Stage Two training, maintaining high standards of personal hygiene to reduce the risk of transmission, and never attending a training venue if in the slightest doubt about possible Covid-19 symptoms."

Last week Crystal Palace’s Andros Townsend urged all players to be disciplined when they were not at their club’s training ground.

He told ITV News he would not hesitate to remind any of his teammates that if they didn’t comply they’d be putting others safety at risk and they would also be threatening the resumption of the Premier League.

For the league itself this is a critical moment, given that there are already several players who have refused to take part in even socially distanced training in small groups.

Andros Townsend said he would call out teammates breaking lockdown guidelines. Credit: PA

These new guidelines will soon be circulated and players and managers will get a chance to question league officials and medical experts later in the week.

UEFA had instructed all European leagues to outline their detailed plans about a restart today, but it has since softened its demands and will be content with a provisional blueprint which it accepts may have to be adjusted.

The Premier League was keen to restart on June 12, but even if clubs agree to the new contact protocol this week, that would leave less than three weeks before the first scheduled game - an ambition that today seems far-fetched.

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