Coronavirus testing costs pose problem for sport’s restart plans

The government wants players and staff to be tested three times per week meaning clubs could be forced to pay as much as £30,000 weekly in order to safely return

Miguel Delaney
Chief Football Writer
Thursday 30 April 2020 17:12
Coronavirus: How has sport been affected?

The government will insist sports teams have to undergo full coronavirus testing three times a week in order to get back to playing, costing around £30,000 a week, and potentially creating big decisions about who returns.

The Premier League has been at the forefront of such moves, and has circulated a plan to restart by 8 June, but are probably one of few competitions that could collectively afford what amounts to an extra footballer's wages. This will create problems for League One and League Two without funding, however, as well as a host of other sports.

Private tests currently cost between £150 and £180, and the government will insist that all staff present at training or matches are tested three times a week.

If a full football squad and their extended staff runs to a provisional number of around 50 people, that would mean a cost of around £30,000.

The circumstances are likely to see clubs seek to reduce numbers, and that could lead to highly calculated decisions about who is involved, and integral to running teams.

While the Premier League should be able to easily afford this - especially when offset by the income then guaranteed from international broadcasters with a return to action - it may create some hard decisions for clubs lower down the pyramid or in other sports, and certainly put the resumption of League One and Two at risk.

The Independent similarly reported on Wednesday that some figures within clubs are uneasy about the optics of morality about their competition using so many tests while key workers go short.

The NHS's latest figures are 81,000 tests in a day day, despite Health Secretary Matt Hancock's forecast that there would be 100,000 by mid-May.

Those driving 'Project Restart' would however point to the fact that the issue would not be the Premier League denying tests to key workers, but totally separate, since the latter comes down to government capacity rather than availability.

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