Rovers took a major step towards resuming training when undergoing their COVID-19 testing at their Academy base at Brockhall on Friday.

The club have followed the EFL’s return to training protocols which outlined that testing must be carried out at least 48 hours before being allowed to train again.

The results will be published by the league on Sunday, and following the Premier League’s lead as ever, that will see the number of tests carried out, and any positive cases, revealed anonymously.

While some clubs tested their players on Thursday, others did so on Friday, however, it is understood that some clubs had issues surrounding the delivery of their testing kits and didn’t do so until Saturday, so are unlikely to figure in the initial results.

It will then be the decision of each individual club whether or not to publish the details of any positive tests, though that won’t come before the EFL’s publication on Sunday. Rovers are so far undecided on whether to do so.

The testing programme, which saw the players visit Brockhall for the first time since the season was suspended on March 13, included 27 players, and 17 members of staff.

Only those who test negative, and showing no symptoms, will be allowed to return to training on Monday.

Anyone who tests positive, whether showing symptoms or not, or anyone testing negative but still displaying symptoms, will be told to self-isolate for seven days and not enter the training ground.

The EFL says the accuracy of these tests is aligned with Government guidelines and added: “For the avoidance of any doubt, availability to clubs will not impact NHS testing resources or prevent other individuals from receiving a test as required.”

Once training does resume, the following protocols must be adhered to:

  • Social distancing must be maintained at all times
  • Players should arrive at the training ground in their kit and with their own water bottle
  • Everyone attending the training ground must undergo a screening protocol, such as a temperature check and questionnaire to detect any possible symptoms of COVID-19
  • Use of medical equipment should be minimised as much as possible
  • Communal areas, including the dressing rooms, dining room, indoor pitch, recreation room and gym will remain closed
  • Players and staff should refrain from spitting while at the training ground
  • Any food provided to players will be done so at a designated point
  • Physio staff administering treatment must do so wearing full personal protective equipment (PPE), including a mask, an apron and gloves, as a minimum
  • Hand sanitisers must be readily available at the training ground, and all equipment is to be disinfected after each session
  • Attendance at the training ground is limited only to players and staff


Players will train in groups of five per pitch, with three staff members allowed on each pitch.

Rovers could maximise the number of people training at one time by using both sites at Brockhall, the senior training centre and Academy base, where the testing took place.

That will also enhance the number of car parking spaces, with players to adhere to social distancing methods, with clubs recommended to leave three spaces between each car.

A 30-minute gap between training sessions on each pitch is essential, so the disinfectant process can take place. No tackling, or contact training is allowed at this stage, and clubs are asked to keep equipment used to a minimum.

Rovers say they have ‘worked tirelessly’ in a bid to ensure the training ground has met all the protocols set out by the EFL, with players having to agree to the club’s COVID-19 operational policy before returning to training.

The cost of the testing has been a sticking point for some clubs, estimated to be about £5m across all 24 Championship clubs.

As things stand, the EFL have entered in to a testing arrangement with a supplier, and repayment methods by clubs are currently under consideration. The bill for Rovers will be in the region of £200,000.

Tests were administered by club doctor, Chris Dalton, under the supervision of head physio Andy Mitchell, and despite reports of some clubs' players testing themselves, the twice-weekly tests that follow will be done under the same provisions.

When Rovers return to training, they will be doing so under 'phase one'. As for when that moves on to 'phase two', that will be down to Government guidelines and medical protocol, outlined by the EFL.

Providing players pass all three health checks and provide a negative COVID-19 test, they will be able to travel to their family home after training.

However, the club is making accommodation available to avoid unnecessary travelling should the players wish, with social distancing applied.

Should players travel home, they must ensure that if they, or any member of their household, experiences symptoms of COVID-19 they must inform the club doctor, stay at home and not attend the training ground for further assessment.