The Premier League has confirmed 18 positive coronavirus tests among players and staff in its latest round of testing – the highest figure of the season so far.
A total of 1,479 players and club staff members were tested between December 21-27; the 18 people who have tested positive are self-isolating.
Hours after the Premier League released the latest figures on Tuesday, it emerged that Fulham’s game at Tottenham on Wednesday evening is in doubt after a number of coronavirus cases were recorded by the west London side.
Fulham are now in talks with the Premier League, whose board must approve any postponements.
Scott Parker – who missed Fulham’s previous game due to a member of his household testing positive – said there were no issues with his squad’s fitness on Tuesday ahead of their game on Wednesday.
If the fixture at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium is called off, it will become the third Premier League game to be cancelled because of coronavirus this season.
Manchester City’s trip to Everton on Monday was postponed hours before kick-off due to multiple positive cases within the City camp, while Aston Villa vs Newcastle was called off earlier this month after the Magpies were hit by the virus.
West Brom boss Sam Allardyce has revealed his club had a positive coronavirus test this week and has called for a break in Premier League action.
After the 5-0 home loss to Leeds, former England boss Allardyce said: “Everyone’s safety is more important than anything else.
“When I listen to the news the variant virus transmits quicker than the original virus [so] we can only do the right thing which is have a circuit break.
“I am 66 years old and the last thing I want to do is catch Covid. I’m very concerned for myself and football in general. If that’s what needs to be done we need to do it.
“We had one positive this week and it seems to be creeping around no matter how hard we try.”
“It’s not something I’ve thought about a lot. I think our players have been really good in following protocols and rules,” Solskjaer said.
“That’s part of the job here, that we as clubs follow the protocols given. I can’t see the benefit in having a circuit break, whatever it’s going to be called.
“Because when are we going to play the games? We all know this year is so difficult, but I don’t think stopping the games is going to make a big, big change.”
Sheffield United confirm ‘number of positive tests’
Sheffield United confirmed they had recorded a number of positive coronavirus tests after their latest round of testing.
Due to medical confidentiality, the club will not be revealing the names of those who have been affected.
The individuals who have tested positive have now entered into a period of self-isolation in accordance with Premier League and Government guidelines.
Blades boss Chris Wilder revealed ahead of their evening kick-off at Burnley that the club had seen “a couple” of players and “four or five backroom staff” test positive. Wilder’s starting line-up was unaffected, with just one change from the previous match, Oliver Burke dropping to the bench, but he was only able to name seven of a possible nine substitutes.
Wilder said neither he nor the club were looking to have the game delayed.
“It’s not an ideal situation but I don’t think we’re a club of one. It (the virus) is picking up and it’s running high at football clubs,” he said.
“We just notified the relevant authorities that we’ve had a situation at the football club. But I want to play football. That’s how it is, we’re not looking to get anything canned. We did the right thing as far as our responsibility to the Premier League and notified them regarding the players that are ill.”
Man City, Arsenal affected
On Christmas Day, Manchester City announced that Gabriel Jesus and Kyle Walker had tested positive for coronavirus, along with two members of club staff.
After further positive results were received on Monday, leading to the postponement of their match at Everton, the club closed their first-team training ground which is undergoing a deep clean.
Arsenal’s Brazilian centre-back Gabriel has also tested positive and is isolating Government protocols. He had already been isolating after being identified as a close contact with someone who had tested positive.
Premier League postponements – what league guidance says
The Premier League board took medical advice into consideration when making the decision to postpone City’s game against Everton.
Decisions to rearrange games are only in “exceptional” circumstances and judged on “case-by-case basis”, says the Premier League, which maintains its medical protocols are robust.
Guidance issued to clubs in the Premier League Handbook 2020/21 is that “permission will not be granted to postpone a League match where the applicant club has 14 or more players listed on its squad list available”.
The final decision is always made by the Premier League Board.
Previous Premier League test results
- Round 1: 31 Aug-6 Sep – 1,605 tested, with three testing positive.
- Round 2: 7-13 Sep – 2,131 tested, with four testing positive.
- Round 3: 14-20 Sep – 1,574 tested, with three testing positive.
- Round 4: 21-27 Sep – 1,595 tested, with 10 testing positive.
- Round 5: 28 Sep-4 Oct – 1,587 tested, with nine testing positive.
- Round 6: 5-11 Oct – 1,128 tested, with five testing positive.
- Round 7: 12-18 Oct – 1,575 tested, with eight testing positive.
- Round 8: 19-25 Oct – 1,609 tested, with two testing positive.
- Round 9: 26 Oct-1 Nov – 1,446 tested, with four testing positive.
- Round 10: 2-8 Nov – 1,646 tested, with four testing positive.
- Round 11: 9-15 Nov – 1,207 tested, with 16 testing positive.
- Round 12: 16-22 Nov – 1,530 tested, with eight testing positive.
- Round 13: 23-29 Nov – 1,381 tested, with 10 testing positive.
- Round 14: 30 Nov-6 Dec – 1,483 tested with 14 testing positive.
- Round 15: 7-13 Dec – 1,549 tested with six testing positive.
- Round 16: 14-20 Dec – 1,569 tested with seven testing positive.
- Round 17: 21-27 Dec – 1,479 tested with 18 testing positive.
The EFL confirmed on Tuesday morning that the total number of games affected so far by Covid-19 related issues was 44 – one in the Carabao Cup and 43 in the Championship, League One and League Two.