Following the decision of the German Bundesliga to consider a return to action on May 9, assuming that the German authorities give permission, the Italian government gave Serie A permission to return to training next Monday, May 4, with matches possibly happening on June 2.
For Serie A there is a legitimate case for considering a late May start. Although Italy has been one of the worst affected nations during the coronavirus pandemic, they have been tackling the problem for longer than most European countries, and have had a longer lockdown and a steady decline in deaths associated with the virus, making them theoretically good candidates for a return.
There is still much to be decided in Serie A. Juventus and Lazio are currently duelling for the title, and a brief glance at the betting on the league at one of the more popular UK betting apps shows opinion split on which will prevail. Napoli, Roma, Inter and Atalanta are locked in a struggle for the second two Champions League spots, while only six points separate Milan in 7th and Fiorentina in 13th.
But there remain considerable potential problems. It is believed that Serie A envisages individual training initially, with social distancing rules in place, but by May 18, it is hoped that team training will get underway with games starting as early as the end of the month.
Blanket player monitoring and a two week quarantine for overseas players are also likely as Series A plans for its restart. Any player coming back to Italy from abroad would be quarantined for two weeks before returning to training. There would be more training after a first round of testing, followed by weekly testing until the end of the season. It is believed that clubs will be stocking up on COVID-19 tests in preparation, in consultation with their local health services.
But when it comes to the restart, some teams might be more ready and suited than others. Any return from the enforced break will need to see both players and coaching staff quarantined together, either in a hotel or other such facility. For some this will not be a problem. Juventus, Lazio, AC Milan and Cagliari have all they need to fulfil this requirement. Lecce and Napoli also have access to linked facilities although both share them with other organisations.
Some clubs are less well prepared. Roma, Milan, Parma and Atalanta have effective training centres, but have no sleeping provision, so would need to find a local hotel to use. That would also be the case for Sampdoria, Genoa, SPAL, Turin, Bologna, Udinese, Sassuolo, Hellas Verona and Fiorentina as these clubs are far more limited facilities.
And there may yet be resistance from a number of areas over the prospect of restarting Serie A, including from within football. Brescia are currently nine points adrift of safety at the foot of the table and club owner Massimo Cellino of Brescia has insisted that his team won’t play again. This is just one of many problems to be resolved before Serie A can return.