Coronavirus: Sportspeople in Wales cleared to train by Welsh Government – BBC South East Wales

Cardiff City boss Neil Harris (L) and Swansea City counterpart Steve Cooper (R) are set to oversee training sessions for the first time since March

Professional sportspeople in Wales have been cleared to resume training by the Welsh Government.

Cardiff City and Swansea City are now set to return to training next week.

The Championship clubs had sought clarity over when they could return, with sport a devolved matter and social distancing regulations in Wales differing to those in England.

The Welsh Government announced on Thursday that training in professional sport “can continue”.

A written statement from the Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas, said those earning a living from sport could resume phased training, providing they follow Welsh workplace regulations.

“Our professional sportspeople are at the top level of sport and will be seeking to return to training as early as possible. This is their profession; they earn a living from sport – the sports field is their workplace,” the statement said.

“The Welsh coronavirus restrictions regulations require everyone to work from home where possible; where that is not possible, employers must take all reasonable measures to comply with the physical distancing duty.

“In a professional sporting context, this means that training for our professional sportspeople can continue provided the clubs – as employers – can take all reasonable measures to maintain physical distancing in the workplace, whether that’s at a training ground or at a stadium.”

Matthew Maynard was given a three-year deal as Glamorgan coach in November 2019 having been in interim control last year

Wales’ First Minister Mark Drakeford said last week he was not aiming to disadvantage Welsh sides involved in cross-border competitions.

The Welsh Government has held talks with the EFL as well as Glamorgan director of cricket Mark Wallace over the resumption of training.

Swansea have said their players will undergo coronavirus testing on Friday, with non-contact training split over three pitches to maintain social distancing due to begin on Monday.

Head coach Steve Cooper said: “Safety will be our first priority and we will be following the protocol to the letter. We won’t be cutting any corners and the club and football staff have worked really well collectively to put everything in place for a safe return.”

Cooper added the club would speak to players over the weekend and said they would respect the feelings of any squad member who does not wish to return to training because of health concerns.

“We spent 35 minutes this morning explaining exactly how we are returning to train and that was followed up by an individual call from myself and the doctor just to see if there are any concerns or to make sure they know what they are coming back to,” he said.

“In general the players are really excited about getting back.”

Cardiff said players “will be undergoing private Covid-19 testing” ahead of a “phased return” to training on Monday.

The Welsh Government statement described the return to training as “an important first phase, which could lead to the resumption of competitive sport”, which would initially be behind closed doors.

However, it added there were no firm timescales for such a return.

Football’s Championship is aiming to return next month, while the statement also clears the way for Glamorgan’s cricketers to return to training when there is any prospect of the sport resuming at county level.

But with players and coaches currently furloughed, there is little prospect of a return to work at Sophia Gardens until the England and Wales Cricket Board sets a target date for the domestic game to re-start.

International matches could be played in July with the county schedule possibly following, and it is likely players will be recalled from furlough around four weeks before they are due to take the field.

Wales’ rugby players are still some way off returning to training despite the government’s decision

The Welsh regional rugby players and coaches are currently on furlough with no imminent return to training planned after rugby was suspended in March.

Welsh Rugby Union chief executive Martyn Phillips believes a return to training in early July and matches in late summer would prove a good outcome.

Phillips said they were working with the Welsh Government about returning protocols.

The Welsh Government statement added that it was also liaising closely with Sport Wales, the Welsh Sports Association and the national governing bodies “to develop an overall approach for the safe return of all sport”, with the guidance only covering professional sport.

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