Bohemians statement

Dalymount by Paul O'Reilly

A video of Bohemians players exercising in a public park that has been circulated on social media has been brought to the attention of the club and we wish to clarify the circumstances.

On Thursday March 12, the FAI announced the cessation of all football activities across the state in accordance with government Covid-19 transmission containment measures.

Like all clubs, Bohemians adhered to these measures and put in place personal training programmes for our players in lieu of collective training.

Strict adherence to stay-at-home measures put in place at the onset of this crisis was absolutely necessary to contain transmission of the virus through society.

But over those two months, they also placed enormous strain on the well-being of the nation and sportspeople, so used to the camaraderie of a team setting, are no different in that regard.

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On Friday May 1, the government issued its five-phase Ireland’s Roadmap for the reopening of the economy and society in accordance with guidelines from the Department of Health and Chief Medical Officer.

Included in the Monday May 18 Phase One was “up to four people who don’t live together can meet outdoors while keeping at least two metres apart” and “it is now possible to participate in a range of sporting activities in groups of no more than four people within five kilometres of the households of those involved.”

With that firm Department of Health guidance in mind, the Bohemians first-team management team, in liaison with the first-team squad, board of directors and club Covid-19 health and safety officer established guidelines for our players to exercise in pods of three under the supervision of one coach per group.

It was and remains the view of the board, the first-team management and players that exercising in a safe and socially-distant way in accordance with the Phase One guidelines was the best possible way of engaging our players, keeping their fitness levels up and enhancing their well-being in what has been a trying time for all.

The club has continued to pay our first-team staff and player wages over the course of this crisis but the players themselves were becoming weary of training and exercising in complete isolation and wanted to feel part of a team and club again as much as is possible within the constraints of the Phase One guidelines.

With that in mind, all stakeholders involved at the club agreed strict guidelines (included below) for such pods to exercise in a safe and socially-distant manner.

On Friday May 15, the following advice from the FAI medical advisor Dr Alan Byrne was contained in a statement from the association: “My advice to clubs is not to return to training when we enter Phase One of the Government Roadmap on Monday, May 18th, not to open their grounds and pitches, even to groups of four, and not to consider collective training or playing football until the medical evidence suggests otherwise.”

While we respect Dr Byrne’s advice, expertise and professionalism absolutely, the club made the collective decision to operate under the guidance of the government Roadmap and Department of Health guidelines.

Compliant with those guidelines, Bohemians players have, since Monday May 18, on six separate days, met in groups of three in public parks around the city.

These groups of players were assembled in a way that respects the 5km travel rule that remains in place, while strict measures, which can be seen below, were put in place to enable this to happen in a safe manner.

These measures include players travelling to location on their own, players maintaining social-distancing, while procedures were put in place for the use and sanitisation of any equipment used.

The video now in circulation shows two groups at Fr Collins Park in Donaghmede.

While it was an error to have two groups at the same venue at the same time, a distance of 20 metres was maintained between the two groups at all times.

All club stakeholders involved have agreed that there will only be one group of three plus one coach per park/location until the FAI’s agreed date for the club to return to collective training on Monday June 8.

Thanks to the FAI, our players and first-team coaching staff were tested for Covid on Monday 25. All results came back negative, while we await the results of this week’s tests.

The club is grateful for the FAI’s efforts to test our players and put in place a roadmap for the return of football, which is due to begin with a four-team pilot tournament at the end of July or start of August for the four teams due to compete in European football this season.

We look forward to the return of collective training on Monday and the eventual return of competitive football.

Training and exercising guidelines:

• Three players and one coach per group.

• You must stay at home if you have been in contact with someone with Covid 19 in the last 14 days or have flu-like symptoms or are feeling otherwise unwell please contact the club doctor immediately.

• Equipment: All training equipment to be handled by coaching staff only. Players do not handle any equipment.

• Arrive ready to train and travel separately to the location.

• Bring water: Please ensure you have your own water bottle to be handled by you only.

• Social distancing: Keep two metres away from other players at all times. Sessions are designed with this in mind and remain apart in between breaks in sessions. Strictly no handshakes, no high fives or any other forms of physical contact.

• Coaches clean all equipment with disinfectant sanitising spray after training.

• Hand Sanitizer: Please make sure you have hand sanitizer in your car. Apply before, during and after training.

 

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