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Third Brighton player tests positive for coronavirus as 'Project Restart' vote looms

Premier League clubs are expected to vote tomorrow on the details surrounding the league’s eventual resumption.

A 'Thank You NHS' banner from Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club is displayed near the entrance of the drive-in coronavirus testing centre at the Amex Stadium.
A 'Thank You NHS' banner from Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club is displayed near the entrance of the drive-in coronavirus testing centre at the Amex Stadium.
Image: Kieran Cleeves

BRIGHTON CHIEF EXECUTIVE Paul Barber has confirmed a third player at the club has tested positive for coronavirus.

The unnamed player will go into 14-day isolation while he recovers from the virus.

The PA news agency understands the rest of the Brighton squad will continue to train as they have been doing during the lockdown, both at home and in solo sessions at the club’s training ground.

Two other players, whose names have also not been revealed by the club, contracted the virus earlier in the pandemic. They are understood to have since recovered but it is not clear whether or not they have returned to training yet.

Barber said on Sky Sports News: “Unfortunately we have had a third player test positive just yesterday.

“Despite all the measures we have all been taking over the last few weeks, when the players haven’t been involved in taking any significant training at all, we have still suffered another player testing positive for the virus.

“There are concerns and I think it is normal for all clubs to have those concerns. We want to make sure we do all that we can that the protocols that are put into place are safe and secure and mitigate the risk.”

The news comes ahead of Monday’s crunch Premier League meeting, where clubs are expected to vote on Project Restart’s plans to complete the season at neutral venues.

Brighton have been vocally critical of that idea, insisting that the campaign should be played out on a home-and-away basis.

The PA news agency understands that is the only issue of the planned resumption that Brighton are against and want the chance to secure survival on the pitch.

paul-barber-file-photo Brighton CEO Paul Barber. Source: Gareth Fuller

It is understood they are against the idea of the current sides occupying the bottom three – Norwich, Watford and Aston Villa – being relegated if the season cannot be completed.

The Seagulls have received criticism for their vocal stance but Barber insists all clubs will act with a degree of self-interest.

“People will accuse us of self-interest, I totally understand that, but at this stage of the season there is self-interest at every level of the table,” he added.

“There is as much self-interest at the top as there is at the bottom, there is as much self-interest in the middle as there is at the bottom.

“Everyone has different objectives for the season and we are all looking to play out the season — if it is safe to do so.

“We really do want to play and we want to make sure the competition stays as fair as it can be despite these exceptional circumstances that we are facing.”

The news of the third positive test comes as Seagulls technical director Dan Ashworth has called for players’ safety to be on top of the agenda at Monday’s Premier League meeting.

“The safety of players and staff is top of that list, everyone’s working hard to minimise risk for those groups,” he told the club’s official website.

“Then there’s a series of things: Where will the games be played? When can we start? When can the players train to make sure they’re not at risk of injury? How will the games be aired?

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“The most important thing is safety, then you can look at the whole thing and discuss how it can all look. It’s about putting together the pieces of the jigsaw once we have a better idea of what the plan looks like.”

doncaster-rovers-v-crystal-palace-fa-cup-fifth-round-keepmoat-stadium Crystal Palace chairman Steve Parish. Source: Richard Sellers

Crystal Palace chairman Steve Parish is backing Premier League clubs to eventually come to a consensus.

Aston Villa and Watford have joined Brighton in speaking out against plans to play the remaining 92 games at neutral venues and it is sure to be a point of contention.

But Parish hopes clubs can unite.

“There are no easy answers, we have to work through it as a collective and I think we will and come out with a consensus in the end,” he said on The Andrew Marr Show.

“[The meeting] is another part of the journey in trying to get football back. We would be derelict in our duty if we did not find a way for the game to come back.

“It may prove beyond us, we have huge challenges in order to get it back to complete the season but we are planning on doing so.”

La Liga has confirmed that five players have tested positive for coronavirus.

All five unnamed players – across the leagues top two divisions – are asymptomatic and in the final phase of the disease but will now go into quarantine and be unable to return to group training until they have had two negative tests.

The Spanish league resumed group training this week with a view to resuming their league in June.

company-logos-displayed-on-smartphone-in-china-24-mar-2020 Five Spanish league players have tested positive but are nearing recovery. Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

A La Liga statement read: “After completing the medical tests on the minimum essential personnel referred by the clubs to start training, some cases of Covid-19 have been detected.

“Specifically, between the clubs of La Liga Santander and La Liga SmartBank, five positive cases have been detected in players, all of them asymptomatic and in the final phase of the disease.

“As planned, the next steps with people who have taken a stand for Covid-19 are: To remain in quarantine in their homes, carrying out the same individual physical activity that they have been doing until now, following the instructions of the club, for those who are footballers.

“In the next few days they will be tested again for the Covid-19 and, after obtaining two negative results, they will be able to join the training sessions at their club’s facilities.

“In addition, La Liga will offer people who live with those affected the possibility of also doing screening tests.”

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