Step by step, La Liga is creeping closer to a return from its coronavirus hiatus.
This week things began to ramp up, and players returned for testing at their clubs while the league outlined a potential start date in June, along with procedures they would use to try and keep everyone safe.
Meanwhile the Spanish government has given the green light to continue so far, as the country attempts to return to normal in the wake of the horrific wave of illness that has washed across it in the last three months.
At the moment, everything is on course for a June 20th return according to Leganes boss Javire Aguirre, although no official announcement has yet been made and the league today warned that even that was subject to government approval.
Games will not be some time, coming after until training schedules are gradually ramped up, with players coming into more and more contact; hopefully as cases in the country overall continue to come down.
It’s all very hopeful, and even those putting this timetable together must be expecting some serious setbacks along the way.
One of the primary concerns was how players might take the news that they were going to be training and then playing, gradually increasing their risk of exposure to the virus.
Players across world football have expressed concerns, but by and large they are complying with instructions so far – only Fali of Cadiz failed to turn up for his testing this week; true to his word that he wouldn’t play until a vaccine was found.
That could be a year away at least, and it seems as though the rest of the playing squads in La Liga have by and large accepted they will have to take these risks in order to get the league back on track and continue in their professional capacity in as normal a way as possible; as soon as possible.
More players may protest about the plans as we get closed to an actual return to the pitch, but so far, there hasn’t been the push-back one might have expected to such ambitious plans.
The Bundesliga’s plans to return this month give Liga president Javier Tebas a solid base to work off, and a precedent to follow. The fact that there are positive tests for players there creates an interesting case study for competitions worldwide on how to play games if positive tests become a regular occurrence.
AS have today reported that Renan Lodi of Atletico Madrid has tested positive too, becoming the first La Liga player to be confirmed to have the illness currently. How the response to that news goes in the next 24 hours, both from the public and the league, will also be a fascinating window into how the next few months of football might work.
If things continue to go smoothly in Germany, and the players there feel safe and content to play despite positive tests in their ranks, their colleagues in La Liga may feel like playing June is a possibility after all, something which still is by no means certain despite these recent steps forward.
There are going to be uncomfortable moments along the way, but if feels like the momentum behind restarting the top flight is finally growing rather than shrinking.