Premier League players want backing over 'Black Lives Matter' shirt tribute - sources

Premier League players will wear "Black Lives Matter" on their shirts in place of individual names during the opening round of fixtures next week, sources have told ESPN, if senior club officials give the green light to the idea during Thursday's video conference meeting of the top-flight clubs.

The initiative is being driven by the group of Premier League captains, who have been in regular contact by phone and WhatsApp since the early weeks of the coronavirus lockdown, which has led to all football in England being suspended since March 13.

The group, in which Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson has become a prominent figure, helped form the #PlayersTogether group in April that committed to raising funds through salary donations to charities linked to the National Health Service (NHS).

Sources have told ESPN that Everton captain Seamus Coleman, Watford's Troy Deeney and Arsenal's Hector Bellerin have been at the forefront of the idea to have the Black Lives Matter slogan placed above the number on the back of players' shirts during the first round of fixtures following the restart on June 17.

The initiative requires Premier League approval and the backing of senior club executives, but the players' group are hopeful the idea will be given the go-ahead during Thursday's meeting, which is also due to resolve any outstanding issues ahead of the first games next week.

Footballers across Europe have been central figures in the campaign for raising awareness of the Black Lives Matter movement, which has emerged in the wake of the death of American citizen George Floyd in police custody last month.

Borussia Dortmund and England forward Jadon Sancho celebrated a goal in the Bundesliga earlier this month by displaying a T-shirt with the message "Justice for George Floyd," and there have also been a number of staged photographs of squads from several clubs taking a knee in silent protest.

Sources have told ESPN that a number of Premier League squads are planning to take a knee prior to the first round of fixtures next week.