Coronavirus: Real Sociedad president denies seeking advantage after scrapping training return

By Joe Wright 13 April 2020 1
Coronavirus: Real Sociedad president denies seeking advantage after scrapping training return

Real Sociedad president Jokin Aperribay has denied their planned return to the club's training facilities was to gain an early advantage over their LaLiga rivals.

Last week, the club outlined their intention to allow first-team players to go back to their Zubieta base to carry on the fitness work they have been doing at home during Spain's lockdown.

The idea was to send players in pairs back onto the training pitches, complying with social distancing measures, once Spain's decree telling non-essential workers to stay at home is lifted on Tuesday.

However, the club reversed their decision on Sunday following discussions with the government's sporting authority, the Consejo Superior de Deportes [CSD].

Aperribay has defended the club against suggestions they wanted to be the first back in training so they could get a head start in preparations for the return of LaLiga's season.

"We absolutely respect the existing situation," he told Radio Marca. "We are the first to comply diligently with all the health measures that exist - that is our intention now and always.

"As for the conversation with the CSD, it was very friendly, without tension. We thought that, like other workers, we could return to our workplace at the end of the decree on non-essential jobs, nothing more.

"We were wrong, but we were not seeking an advantage. What we understood was that the work being done at home could be done in the workplace, without using dressing rooms or common spaces, taking advantage of the eight pitches we have, with two players on each one. They weren't in group training and there was no ball.

"Quite possibly, if there were no essential activities decree, we would have started [training] earlier. The first thing we did, when things stopped, was to disinfect Zubieta entirely.

"We planned to resume individual activities after two weeks, but I insist that we're not looking for an advantage, just at doing the work in our place."

La Real were fourth in the table after 27 games when LaLiga was suspended, with the battle for a Champions League place becoming intense.

They also have a Copa del Rey final against Basque rivals Athletic Bilbao on the horizon, although it is unclear when that match will be held or whether it will be behind closed doors.

"We're very clear about it: football can be played when it can be played. We're not going to be the ones to decide," said Aperribay.

"The final is a match and the issue of open or closed doors is up to the health authorities and in that way you have to be absolutely scrupulous in terms of how things can return."

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