The Premier League has carried out its first wave of coronavirus tests on players and staff of all 20 teams. Six people have tested positive for COVID-19 and will enter a period of self-isolation.
First and foremost, thoughts must be with each of the six, and we wish them a swift and safe recoveries during a worrisome time for them and their families.
However, those six positive tests will actually represent a big victory in the eyes of the Premier League officials tasked with navigating a route back to action – and perhaps even the nation seeking normality on a wider scale.
A total of 748 people across the Premier League were tested for coronavirus in the initial process, and there have been suggestions that a result of between 5-15 per cent positive tests would have been a step in the right direction for the top flight to return to action. That would put the range for a good result for the Premier League sample to rest somewhere between 37 and 112 confirmed cases of COVID-19.
To repeat, only six have returned positive, a lowly 0.8 per cent of the total taken – over five times fewer cases than the low estimate of a 'good result'.
It's very tough to celebrate any number of coronavirus cases above zero, but such a small number of cases has provided the Premier League with a seismic boost in its bid to return to action. Bundesliga fixtures have also been played in Germany without a hitch so far, further increasing the light at the end of the tunnel.
There are far too many variables involved to extrapolate the data across the nation as a whole – after all, Premier League footballers lead very different lives to those who graft each day to pay for the privilege of watching them, but the signs do appear to hint at progress.
Meanwhile, several players including Troy Deeney have stated they do not intend to return to training imminently as clubs begin preparations for Project Restart, with the Watford talisman citing his five-month-old son's pre-existing breathing issues as his obvious main concern. Numerous players can be expected to follow suit and have every right to do so.
The wider public also remains divided over whether the beautiful game should make a comeback due a lack of guaranteed safety for those involved in games, from players to club staff to the hundreds of behind-the-scenes workers who will be inside every ground, every game enabling the show to go on.
No employee – millionaire footballer or not – should be forced back into non-essential duty, but these figures will greatly boost the confidence of officials who remain steely focused on playing out the 2019/20 campaign, and isolated protests are unlikely to put the brakes on a Premier League plan that is very much in motion.
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