Real Sociedad president denies seeking advantage after scrapping training return

Jokin Aperribay says Real Sociedad's planned training return was simply to allow players to do fitness work on the pitches, not at home.

Martin Odegaard's Real Sociedad is fourth in the table after 27 games.   -  Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

Real Sociedad president Jokin Aperribay has denied its planned return to the club's training facilities was to gain an early advantage over its La Liga rival.

Last week, the club outlined its intention to allow first-team players to go back to its 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.

READ | Real Sociedad scraps training plans

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

Aperribay has defended the club against suggestions it wanted to be the first back in training so itcould get a head start in preparations for the return of La Liga'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 was fourth in the table after 27 games when La Liga was suspended, with the battle for a Champions League place becoming intense.

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It also has a Copa del Rey final against Basque rival 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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