MLS to allow full-team training, with COVID-19 testing in place

FILE PHOTO: Jul 27, 2019; Orlando, FL, USA; General view of a MLS logo on a jersey prior to the MLS works Day of Service event at Ace Cafe. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports/File Photo

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Major League Soccer (MLS) said on Thursday that clubs could return to full-team training, provided they get approval from medical staff and a local infectious disease expert and follow rigorous health and safety procedures.

The announcement marks a critical step forward for the league to return to competition, nearly three months after it shut down due to the novel coronavirus outbreak and a month after teams resumed individual training.

MLS set forward a list of criteria for clubs, including a “strict schedule of COVID-19 testing,” as well as social distancing procedures, with no more than five people at a time allowed in gyms, training rooms and other fitness facilities.

The league and its players reached a new labour deal on Wednesday, allowing for the 2020 season to resume amid the pandemic. Under the plan, the season will restart with a tournament at Orlando’s Walt Disney World, and will see players take a 5% pay cut for the remainder of the season.

Reporting by Amy Tennery; Editing by Ken Ferris