Professional football in Spain will take a step toward resuming this week with clubs set to welcome players back to training after the country's prime minister Pedro Sanchez outlined plans to relax coronavirus lockdown measures.
Players can begin individual training from Monday and could be training together in small groups a week after that as part of a four-phase plan to lift one of the toughest coronavirus lockdowns in Europe.
"Professional sportspeople will be able to train individually from May 4 in the first phase," Sanchez said in a televised address on Tuesday, although the lifting of social distancing restrictions will vary from province to province.
In the following phase, which could begin as early as May 11, training in small groups will be allowed.
The health ministry will reassess the situation every fortnight to determine when group training will be permitted, followed by the possibility of playing competitive games.
"The opening of high-performance centres with hygiene measures and increased protection is being considered as well," said Sanchez.
All football in Spain has been halted since March but by seeking to achieve some normality by the end of June, the prime minister has given hope for a resumption of La Liga, whose chief repeated on Tuesday a desire to complete the disrupted season.
"In Spain football is an important economic engine we need to reactivate,” Javier Tebas said in a statement.
"I don’t understand how there will be more risk playing football behind closed doors.”
Real Sociedad had earlier this month announced plans to welcome players back to the training ground, although the club quickly backtracked after speaking with health officials.
La Liga clubs' hopes of returning to training follow similar steps taken by Bundesliga sides in Germany, including champions Bayern Munich, who have returned to their training grounds while adhering to social distancing protocols.