By Brian Bariyo Tumuramye
Championship players at seven clubs will be asked to conduct Coronavirus tests on themselves either at home or the training ground.
The English Football League distributed its initial protocols last week after it obtained a 26-page document from one of the Championship clubs, which reveals that after first assessment at training grounds on Thursday and Friday, subsequent tests should be “self-administered” at home on the morning of training on two specified days each week.
There is a flexible approach to testing, with some clubs having them conducted by independent testers, others conducted by club medical staff and then a group asking players to do self-testing.
The EFL is hoping clubs can return to phase one of training from Monday, but the protocol says that players who test positive and are not showing symptoms must “isolate for 14 days”.
Those who test positive and do have symptoms have to “isolate for seven days” and would then face no further antigen testing, while those who are negative but do have symptoms should “isolate for seven days, then retest”.
This is different to the Premier League. In the top flight, there were six positive tests from the first round of testing of players and staff, but those affected have to isolate for seven days.
Before training can resume, Championship players will have to actively “opt in” to the first phase of training, in accordance with the government’s guidelines.
They will do so by providing written confirmation they have received the “Covid-19 operational policy” and agree to take part in training.
The protocols, which follow EFL guidance, say that players “will have the opportunity to ‘opt out’ of the policy at any stage”.
The document covers the pre-return preparations, the plan for the Covid-19 Antigen Testing and what the small group training will look like.
Similar to the Premier League, Championship clubs will have to train in small groups of five for a maximum of 75 minutes, with 15 minutes allowed for warm-up and recovery.
It goes on to say: “Following the initial test, subsequent CATs will be self-administered and are to be performed at home on the morning of training on two specified days each week.
“The testing laboratory and kits have been selected by the league and, as such, we are not in control of these.”
Another requirement before the first day of training is that each player will have a brief medical examination with the club doctor, where they will measure heart and lung auscultations [sounds], as well as oxygen saturations.
EFL guidelines also require players and staff to complete a daily medical questionnaire on training days. This has to be submitted before arrival at the training ground, otherwise they will be denied access.