The Premier League reached a pair of milestones Tuesday in an effort to resume the season, but they aren't out of the woods yet.
Clubs began small-group training sessions Tuesday, with groups of no more than five players practicing together while following social-distancing guidelines aimed to limit the spread of the coronavirus. Six of the 748 players and club staff tested over the weekend tested positive for COVID-19, and the Premier League said those six (from three different clubs) will self-isolate for the next week.
"[The] general consensus from what I can gather is that [the results are] actually about as positive news as you can get," NBC Sports' Premier League host Rebecca Lowe told Mike Tirico on "Lunch Talk Live" on Tuesday.
The Premier League's rate of initial positive tests (0.8 percent) is slightly higher than the Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga's initial rate (0.5 percent) when Germany's top two divisions ramped up their efforts to restart their seasons earlier this month. Nearly 1,000 more players and club staff (across 36 teams) were tested in Germany compared to the 19 Premier League teams tested in England. Germany's protocol required two weeks of isolation for those who tested positive.
Another round of tests is set for this week, as each Premier League club will be tested twice a week as part of "Project Restart." The Premier League's initial June 12 target is more of "a staging post," CEO Richard Masters said last week. Restarting the season will require approval from the clubs, players, medical staff and the British government.
Next week arguably is the Premier League's most critical. The Premier League must submit a proposal to restart the season to UEFA by next Monday. Clubs will determine next Tuesday whether or not teams can return to contact training, and they will vote a day later on whether or not they will resume the season. A minimum of 14 clubs must vote in favor of restarting in order for games to be played.
Leicester City's 4-0 win over Aston Villa on March 9 was the Premier League's last match before the season was suspended due to the coronavirus. By the end of next week, we very well could know when the next one will be played.