London (AFP)

"The first step towards a restart": the authorization on Tuesday of training in small groups, voted on Monday by the Premier League, is a timid step forward for English football. But a resumption of matches in mid-June, still mentioned by the government on Monday morning, remains complicated.

"The shareholders of the Premier League voted unanimously today to return to training in small groups from tomorrow (Tuesday) afternoon," announced the body that organizes the championship of England.

This vote is "the first step towards a restart of the Premier League", she adds, before continuing with a formula devoted but fraught with uncertainty about its duration, "when it will be possible to do it safely" .

Concretely, the clubs will be able to offer their players exercises in groups of 5 "while maintaining (the measures of) social distancing", further details the Premier League. "Contact training is not yet allowed."

This timid return to collective sessions has the advantage of not upsetting anyone while, in recent weeks, reluctance towards the recovery project ("Project Restart") carried by the authorities have multiplied.

- The Premier League wave on the calendar -

Initially, the Premier League hoped to resume collective training on Monday, play its first matches on June 9 and have completed the 92 remaining league games in late July.

This seems very ambitious, even if Oliver Dowden, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sports, himself spoke on Monday of the objective of a recovery in mid-June.

"I had very productive discussions on Thursday with the federation (FA), the Football League (EFL) and the Premier League. We are working hard with them to try to come back, aiming for mid-June, but the number one criterion one will be public safety, "he told Sky Sports.

"If we manage to settle this, we can come back in mid-June. We are making satisfactory progress," he added.

The Premier League remains voluntarily vague on the deadlines, while some players loudly proclaimed their fears about their health security and a majority of clubs reject certain terms of the "Project Restart", such as the will to dispute the matches in a limited number of stadiums.

- Scotland balances its season -

During the weekend, Newcastle coach Steve Bruce also felt that the date for the resumption of matches should be extended to allow the players to get back into good shape.

Teams will collapse "like a house of cards" due to injuries, if matches resume before the end of June, he said in the Sunday Telegraph.

"A broad consultation will continue with the players, the coaches, the clubs, (the unions of the players and the coaches) while a protocol for the return to complete training will be developed", was satisfied with indicate the Premier League.

In any case, it will be necessary to wait for the British government to authorize contacts in professional sports, which could be the case in early June.

A little further north, Scotland has taken another option by confirming the end of its 2019-2020 season and by awarding the title to Celtic who were 13 points ahead of the Rangers, who had a game of less than eight days from the end when the championship was interrupted in March.

It is the 9th consecutive title for the Greens and Whites who equal a record they had established in the years 1960-1970 and which the Rangers had tied between 1988 and 1997.

This decision could however be challenged in justice by clubs which consider themselves injured, starting with the Hearts of Midlothian who are relegated in D2.

© 2020 AFP