Premier League

The Impact of Covid-19 on the Premier League.

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Premier League games that have been called off:

Brighton vs Tottenham – Sunday December 12, Premier League

Brentford vs Man Utd – Tuesday December 14, Premier League

Burnley vs Watford – Wednesday December 15, Premier League

Leicester vs Tottenham – Thursday December 16, Premier League

Man Utd vs Brighton – Saturday December 18, Premier League

Southampton vs Brentford – Saturday December 18, Premier League

Watford vs Crystal Palace – Saturday December 18, Premier League

West Ham vs Norwich – Saturday December 18, Premier League

Aston Villa vs Burnley – Saturday December 18, Premier League

Everton vs Leicester – Sunday December 19, Premier League

Liverpool vs Leeds – Sunday December 26, Premier League

Wolves vs Watford – Sunday December 26, Premier League

Burnley vs Everton – Sunday December 26, Premier League

Fixtures across other competitions have also been postponed

Tottenham vs Rennes – Thursday December 9, Europa Conference League

Sheffield Utd vs QPR – Monday December 13, Championship

Man City Women vs Leicester City Women – Wednesday December 15, League Cup

Cardiff vs Derby – Saturday December 18, Championship

QPR vs Swansea – Saturday December 18, Championship

Reading vs Luton – Saturday December 18, Championship

Millwall vs Preston – Saturday December 18, Championship

AFC Wimbledon vs Portsmouth – Saturday December 18, League One

Gillingham vs Crewe – Saturday December 18, League One

Lincoln City vs Doncaster Rovers – Saturday December 18, League One

Sheffield Wednesday vs Accrington – Saturday December 18, League One

Barrow vs Northampton – Saturday December 18, League Two

Carlisle vs Bradford – Saturday December 18, League Two

Colchester vs Hartlepool – Saturday December 18, League Two

Crawley vs Oldham – Saturday December 18, League Two

Forest Green vs Mansfield Town – Saturday December 18, League Two

Scunthorpe vs Bristol Rovers – Saturday December 18, League Two

Chelsea Women vs West Ham Women – Sunday December 19, Women’s Super League

Man City Women vs Reading Women – Sunday December 19, Women’s Super League

Arsenal Women vs Brighton Women – Sunday December 19, Women’s Super League

Forest Green vs Colchester – Tuesday December 21 – League Two

Barnsley vs Stoke City – Sunday December 26 – Championship

Cardiff City vs Coventry City – Sunday December 26 – Championship

Fulham vs Birmingham – Sunday December 26 – Championship

Millwall vs Swansea – Sunday December 26 – Championship

Peterborough United vs Reading – Sunday December 26 – Championship

Preston vs Sheffield United – Sunday December 26 – Championship

AFC Wimbledon vs Charlton – Sunday December 26 – League One

Bolton vs Morecambe – Sunday December 26 – League One

Crewe vs Wigan – Sunday December 26 – League One

Portsmouth vs Oxford – Sunday December 26 – League One

Sheffield Wednesday vs Burton – Sunday December 26 – League One

Wycombe vs Cambridge – Sunday December 26 – League One

Bradford City vs Harrogate Town – Sunday December 26 – League Two

Bristol Rovers vs Sutton United – Sunday December 26 – League Two

Colchester vs Leyton Orient – Sunday December 26 – League Two

Exeter City vs Swindon Town – Sunday December 26 – League Two

Newport County vs Forest Green Rovers – Sunday December 26 – League Two

Northampton Town vs Walsall – Sunday December 26 – League Two

Port Vale vs Salford – Sunday December 26 – League Two

Stevenage vs Crawley Town – Sunday December 26 – League Two

A total of 13 matches have now been called off in the past two weeks as Britain battles record numbers of positive Covid cases due to the Omicron variant of the virus.

What are the Premier League rules around postponements?

The 2021/22 Premier League handbook included Covid protocols and stated that the Premier League’s board will “only permit the rearrangement or postponement of a league match in exceptional circumstances”.

The board make calls on a case-by-case basis, and by way of guidance the Premier League says permission for a postponement will not be granted if a club have 14 or more players from their squad list available.

However, after the postponement of a number of games in the weeks leading up to Christmas, a new Premier League guide explaining match postponement protocols was published.

These are the factors that are considered when deciding whether to postpone a top-flight game:

1) The impact of COVID-19 infections on a club’s squad, as well as injuries, illness and those isolating, and the number of players available on the squad list and any Under-21 players with appropriate experience. Where a club cannot field 13 outfield players and a goalkeeper either from its squad list or its appropriately experienced Under-21 players, the match will be postponed.

2) The status of any COVID-19 outbreak within a club, including the number of individuals affected, the sequence and source of infections and their proximity to the match in question.

3) A club’s ability to safely prepare its players in the lead-up to a match.

4) Medical advice as to whether there is any unacceptable risk to the health and safety of players and staff by playing the match.

5) Any advice from UK Health Security Agency and other public bodies.

6) Any other exceptional circumstances.

The Premier League have written to clubs telling them “emergency measures” have been reinstated, which consists of:

  • An increase in the frequency of testing players and staff
  • Wearing face coverings while indoors
  • Observing social distancing
  • Limiting treatment time

According to the PA news agency, Premier League players and staff must also now take a lateral flow test every time they want to enter their club’s training ground as the competition steps up its efforts to combat the threat posed by the Omicron variant of Covid-19.

It is understood individuals will be required to take a lateral flow test outside the facility, while twice-weekly PCR testing is also being introduced.

The decision on increased testing was taken at a clubs’ shareholders’ meeting on Tuesday and will sit alongside existing emergency measures that were reintroduced last week.

Back in October, the Premier League revealed 69 per cent of players had been fully vaccinated, with 81 per cent receiving their first dose, while a month prior Sky Sports News reported the concern over the league’s slow vaccine drive.

Those concerns remain in light of the recent increase, and there will also be a push for double-jabbed players to receive their booster in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, in order to attend a Premier League game from December 15, supporters must now either show proof of double vaccination via the NHS Covid app, or proof of a negative lateral flow test taken inside the previous 48 hours.

This is a requirement to attend any sporting event in England with crowds of more than 10,000 people, a measure Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced as part of the government’s ‘plan B’ to combat the spread of the Omicron variant of Covid-19.

Comparison to last seasons postponed games

Aston Villa vs Newcastle – December 4

Everton vs Man City – December 28

Tottenham vs Fulham – December 30

Burnley vs Fulham – January 3

Aston Villa vs Tottenham – January 13

Aston Villa vs Everton – January 17 

‘Talking to a wall’

Tottenham Hotspur manager Antonio Conte said Thursday’s meeting between the Premier League and all 20 top-flight bosses to discuss the escalating Covid situation affecting English football’s top flight had been a waste of time.

The virtual meeting was designed to let managers air their concerns over a congested fixture list after Premier League clubs had decided to plough on with the scheduled programme rather than pause the season.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola suggested the only way football authorities would address welfare concerns was if the players went on strike.

But with industrial action looking highly unlikely, Conte said discussions with the Premier League had been akin to talking to a wall.

“If I have to be honest, it was a meeting that we tried to speak and some coaches tried to speak, to ask about solutions but I think everything was decided,” Conte said on Friday.

“I think yesterday (Thursday) it was a wall and for this reason I also prefer to not go into it.”

The Italian, asked at a news conference if the talks had been a waste of time, replied: “I think so. Because when you have a wall in front of you, you can speak and ask what you want but every decision was (already) taken.”

Spurs, who have just returned from an enforced two-week break due to a Covid-19 outbreak at the club, are due to host Crystal Palace on Sunday before they visit Southampton on Tuesday.

Norwich manager Dean Smith said it was “lunacy” to expect teams to play two matches in 48 hours in the current circumstances, with the relegation-threatened Canaries set to host Arsenal on Sunday before facing Crystal Palace on 28 December.

“We have some fresh cases, but we have got others coming back,” said Smith. We are not sure how many will miss Boxing Day.

“It is lunacy that we are having to play two games in 48 hours and there has got to be a question about the integrity of the competition when teams are playing weakened teams against other teams and it is affecting league positions.”

Main image credits: Embed from Getty Images

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