La Liga clubs given permission to expand into group training

MADRID, Spain – La Liga have told clubs they will be able to increase training to involve groups of up to 10 players on Monday, May 18, as teams take another step towards the planned resumption of the season next month. 

The Spanish government has announced protocol that will allow training sessions to be expanded by all clubs, even those belonging to areas that are further behind in the country's de-escalation program. 

It means teams like Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Aletico Madrid will be able to train in groups of 10, despite both Madrid and Catalonia remaining in "phase 0" as two of Spain's worst-hit regions by coronavirus. 

"It is a ministerial decision. It was very important that all teams could train in the same way," said Javier Tebas, the president of La Liga, on Sunday.

Espanyol, Leganes, Getafe, and Real Valladolid will also be given special permission to do training in larger groups. 

The move comes as a boost to La Liga's hopes of restarting the season in the middle of June and following the lead of Germany's Bundesliga, which staged games behind closed doors on Saturday. 

Teams in the top two divisions in Spain have already returned to their training grounds this month, with players working individually as part of La Liga's staggered program, which includes regular testing and strict medical protocol. 

Tebas has circled June 12 as the ideal date for matches to return but admitted the exact timing will depend on the health authorities in Spain and the trajectory of the virus. 

"We are working so that [the return of La Liga] will take place from June 11 to 12, but we are working to be ready regardless of the date," Tebas told Movistar TV on Sunday.

"It is the health authorities who will say when we start."

"I would like it to happen as soon as possible, but the truth is that we do not have an ideal date. We have to wait for the green light from the health authorities."

According to an official statement by the government on Saturday, professional sports clubs "may carry out complete training sessions" while "complying with the corresponding prevention and hygiene measures." 

The statement puts the maximum number at 14 for group training but La Liga have informed clubs the limit will be 10 on Monday. 

La Liga first suspended fixtures on March 14 and Tebas has estimated that failing to complete the season would cost clubs around 1 billion euros. –