Portsmouth hopeful for green light to launch coronavirus testing programme

Pompey are eyeing introducing coronavirus testing at their training ground this week.

A group of six  Pompey players trained at Roko on Monday, among them Christian Burgess, Cameron McGeehan (left) and Tom Naylor (middle). Picture: Habibur Rahman
A group of six Pompey players trained at Roko on Monday, among them Christian Burgess, Cameron McGeehan (left) and Tom Naylor (middle). Picture: Habibur Rahman

Mark Catlin has revealed the Blues have applied to join the Football League’s Return to Play protocol.

The associated testing scheme is presently in place for Championship members and the four League Two play-off semi-finalists.

If approved, the process consists of twice-weekly testing at the training ground, with the respective club footing the bill.

Pompey’s application has now been lodged – and, once granted, Catlin is hopeful that testing can begin as soon as this week.

He said: ‘Every day which goes by is definitely a wasted day.

‘We need to be back at it as quickly as we can so we’re ready, should the time come, to start football again.

‘The EFL’s statement on Saturday said all clubs were now invited to adopt the Return to Play protocols, so we immediately applied.

‘It’s not an easy process from a health and safety regulating point of view, it’s very time consuming and arduous, but that is entirely understandable.

‘Rightly, here are so many different protocols which must be followed, in regards of who is allowed at the training ground, what equipment can be used and what must be cleaned after use.

‘We have put the application in and are hoping testing will follow soon after. Perhaps this week.

‘The clubs pay for the tests and it has been widely reported that testing is going to total anything between £125,000 to £150,000 for each club should the season be completed.

‘Obviously that will be mitigated should it be just the play-offs. Although there will still be a heavy cost involved because of the requirement to test twice a week, even during training.’

On Thursday and Friday last week, 135 players and club staff were tested among the four League Two play-off semi-finalists.

Of those, seven were returned as positive, with four coming from Colchester and two from Exeter.

Completing the tally is Northampton first-team physio Ignacio Herrando.

It represented the first time the Return to Play protocol has been employed outside the Championship.

Now Pompey and other League One members are seeking to follow suit.

Catlin added: ‘Undoubtedly positive tests happen, it happens at every club up and down the country.

‘Thankfully, given the age and fitness of players, many seem to have very mild symptoms, if anything at all.

‘However, as they have the virus, the concern beyond that is who they can pass it onto, which is why everyone has to be isolated following a positive test.’

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