Premier League set to increase coronavirus testing to Project Restart levels amid fears weekly screening isn’t fit for purpose – as top-flight clubs agree to cover costs for EFL teams when they face each other
- The twice-weekly testing used during Project Restart has been discussed
- There are fears a seven-day gap between tests could lead to the virus spreading
- The Premier League published details of 10 positive tests on Monday evening
- Top-flight clubs agreed to cover costs for EFL clubs when they face each other
Sportsmail has learned that returning to the twice-weekly testing used during Project Restart has been discussed informally by clubs due to fears that a seven-day gap between tests could lead to the virus spreading within their bubble without intervention.
The Premier League have an open mind on the issue. On Tuesday, they signalled their commitment to thorough testing by agreeing to cover costs for EFL clubs whenever they are drawn against top-flight opposition in the Carabao Cup and FA Cup this season.
Premier League clubs are considering returning to twice-weekly coronavirus testing
Players and staff at Stoke, Brentford and Newport were tested for Covid-19 on Tuesday ahead of this week’s fourth-round ties against Aston Villa, Fulham and Newcastle respectively, with the cost of around £8,000 per club to be paid out of the Premier League’s central funds.
The Premier League’s decision to take control comes amid concern over rising infection rates across the country and rows over the lack of testing in the earlier rounds of the Carabao Cup, when several EFL clubs refused to be tested.
Hull declined West Ham’s offer to test their players before last week’s third-round tie at the London Stadium but, under new protocols, Covid-19 tests will be mandatory for clubs facing Premier League opposition in both cups.
The talks about increasing testing more widely follows the Premier League publishing details of 10 positive tests on Monday evening, the highest figure since testing began in June.
David Moyes was one of 10 positive cases after Premier League published results on Monday
That number included West Ham manager David Moyes and players Issa Diop and Josh Cullen, who were forced to miss the Hull game last week after being informed they had tested positive just before kick-off. The identities of the other seven individuals or their clubs is not known.
The increase in Premier League positive tests follows several Covid-19 outbreaks at EFL clubs.
Leyton Orient and Grimsby were forced to withdraw from two fixtures in the last week.
Club executives will now discuss whether to return to twice-weekly testing, with a decision likely to be made after next week’s international break.
The Premier League’s view is that their strict Covid-19 protocols — under which stadiums are strictly segregated into red, amber and green zones and all staff are told to maintain social distancing — is the key to controlling the virus, with the testing programme acting as a back-up.
League Two outfit Leyton Orient recently suffered an outbreak of coronavirus