25,000 tests to finish the season… it's game on in Germany

25,000 tests to finish the season, masks worn in dressing room… but no celebrations! It’s game ON in Germany with the Bundesliga set to return

  • The Bundesliga will return to action this weekend but it will be much changed 
  • An estimated 25,000 coronavirus tests will be needed to complete the season
  • Players can’t celebrate in groups and press conferences will be held on Zoom
  • Sportsmail assesses the new guidelines that have been introduced in Germany
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

After more than two months away due to the coronavirus pandemic, Germany’s Bundesliga will be Europe’s first major league to return on Saturday.

It will look very different, with no fans and a string of fresh instructions for players, managers and clubs to get used to, on and off the pitch. 

Sportsmail looks at some of the new guidelines introduced to get the season finished safely…

The Bundesliga, and Jadon Sancho, will return this weekend, but things will be very different

How have the players been preparing?

They have been back in training since April, starting in small groups with restrictions, social distancing and with strict hygiene requirements, before stepping up to full training.

This week they have been in quarantine camps where the ideal scenario was for clubs to have either entire hotels or floors to themselves. 

If that is not possible, use of their own entrances, lifts and team meeting rooms to avoid contact with other visitors is advised. 

Bayern Munich players have been wearing face masks while arriving for training sessions

Use of ‘wellness’ facilities such as spas and common areas such as gyms and bars is banned. All dining rooms have to be large enough for players to sit two metres apart.

All have to wear masks outside their rooms and the dining area and not touch lift buttons, bannisters or door handles with their hands — using elbows and knees, instead. Staff not involved in the game must stay away and be available via phone or video conferencing.

What about the hotel staff?

They all have to wear masks, can’t clean rooms while teams are in the hotels and are not allowed in corridors for stays of only a few days. The hope is that as much as possible is done by tested and cleared club staff rather than hotel staff.

Where possible, food is served with as few hotel staff involved as possible.

What about testing?

Two rounds of checks of players and staff in the top two divisions were carried out before clubs were given the green light to resume full training. Further tests were carried out before players went into quarantine.

The first wave of 1,724 tests picked up 10 positive cases and the second of 1,695 tests resulted in two more.

An estimated 25,000 tests are needed to get the season completed. Testing of players and staff will continue twice a week, including the day before matches, with results returned by 10am on match day.

How are they dealing with infected players?

Immediate quarantining of affected player for 14 days and further testing for anyone they have been in contact with. 

The hope is that any matches that have to be postponed will be rearranged. Any further testing of an infected player has to take place at their home or a drive-in station. Any player with symptoms has to alert the team doctor and isolate.

What about the officials?

All officials, around 100, have been tested this week and will be tested again on the day before matches.

Anyone who tests positive will be replaced, with fourth officials on standby if another referee is not available. They will now travel on the day of the game rather than earlier.

All Bundesliga officials  have been tested this week and will be tested again before games

How have clubs’ travel plans changed?

Teams have to use multiple buses with enough space for players to sit at least 1.5 metres apart.

Players and staff must wear masks on arrival. Home players are allowed to travel in their own cars but car sharing is forbidden.

Teams must ensure there is a long enough gap between their arrival times, and ideally use different routes to get to the dressing rooms.

What has changed on match days?

Players are limited to a maximum of 40-minute stints in dressing rooms, where they must keep masks on. Clubs are advised to make teams use the tunnel separately if possible.

On the field, everyone bar the active players and officials has to wear a face mask, although managers can lower theirs to shout instructions.

Substitutes in the Bundesliga must now sit at least one seat apart and will have to wear masks

Balls will also be disinfected before and during the game and players have to use personalised, disposable bottles. 

Substitutes must sit at least one seat apart, or in the stands if the benches are too small. Mascots, team photos and pre-match handshakes have all been ditched.

Players can no longer celebrate in groups, high-five or embrace, and they have also been asked not to spit, other than when re-hydrating.

And after the match?

The press conference room and mixed zone areas will be closed, with Zoom-style video press conferences instead. A second room for anti-doping tests is also a new requirement.

How many people in the stadium?

Matches will operate with a maximum of 322 people, with the stadium split into three zones — the pitch, the stands and outside the stadium — to help control numbers. 

All will be temperature-checked before entry. A maximum of around 100 people are allowed in each zone at one time. Arrival times will be staggered.

Matches will operate with a maximum of 322 people, with the stadium split into three zones

How are the zones broken up?

For Bundesliga games, 98 people will be allowed in zone one by kick-off time — made up of five officials, 22 players, 18 subs, 20 coaching staff, four ball boys/girls, four security personnel, four medics, three hygienists, three photographers and 15 VAR technicians.

Zone two can contain up to 115 people including security staff, anti-doping officials, team staff, club delegations, fire and police staff, 10 written media, 23 from TV companies, analysts and technicians.

In zone three there can be up to 109 more, made up of further security, TV crews, grounds staff and VAR/TV technicians.

How are TV crews affected?

TV crews will be subject to the same restriction on numbers, including no pitchside reporters and fewer cameras.

There will be restrictions for TV crews, with numbers reduced and no pitchside reporters

Where can we watch it?

BT will be showing all remaining games in the UK.

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