Which games involving Premier League clubs have been called off due to Covid-19? And what are the Premier League rules?
Which games have been called off?
Three Premier League games have been called off inside four days so far but a string of fixtures across other competitions have also been postponed.
Burnley announced only two-and-a-half hours before kick-off that their match against Watford at Turf Moor had been postponed “due to an ongoing Covid outbreak within the opposition squad”.
Brentford boss Thomas Frank has called for this weekend’s round of Premier League fixtures to be postponed to “break the chain” on the current spike in infections.
Tottenham vs Rennes – Thursday December 9 – Europa Conference League
Brighton vs Tottenham – Sunday December 12 – Premier League
Sheffield Utd vs QPR – Monday December 13 – Championship
Brentford vs Man Utd – Tuesday December 14 – Premier League
Burnley vs Watford – Wednesday December 15 – Premier League
Man City Women vs Leicester City Women – Wednesday December 15 – League Cup
QPR vs Swansea – Saturday December 18 – Championship
Reading vs Luton – Saturday December 18 – Championship
Millwall vs Preston – Saturday December 18 – Championship
What are the Premier League rules?
The 2021/22 Premier League handbook includes Covid protocols, and states 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.
Manchester United made a request to the Premier League to postpone their Brighton fixture after being forced to close first-team operations at their training ground on December 13.
But Sky Sports News understands the Premier League turned down further requests from clubs for games to be postponed due to Covid cases during the week commencing December 13.
Graham Potter has since revealed Brighton were unsuccessful in getting their trip to Wolves – a 1-0 defeat – postponed, while Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers expressed his “disappointment” at the Premier League’s refusal to postpone his side’s match with Tottenham on Thursday as the club deal with a Covid-19 outbreak.
How many positive tests?
The week of December 6 to December 12 saw the highest number of positive tests in the Premier League, with 42 compared with 12 the previous week (November 29 to December 5).
It was also the highest weekly figure recorded since the release of testing results began in May last year.
December 6 to December 12 did see the highest number of tests taken this season, with 3,805.
August 2 to August 8 – 3,118 tested; 9 positive
August 9 to August 15 – 3,231 tests; 11 positive
August 16 to August 22 – 3,060 tests; 16 positive
August 23 to August 29 – 3,020 tests; six positive
August 30 to September 5 – 1,952 tests; two positive
September 6 to September 12 – 3,039 tests; three positive
September 13 to September 19 – 3,154 tests; two positive
September 20 to September 26 – 3,010 tests; one positive
September 27 to October 3 – 2,927 tests; four positive
October 4 to October 10 – 1,696 tests; zero positive
October 11 to October 17 – 3,044 tests; six positive
October 18 to October 24 – 3,209 tests; four positive
October 25 to October 31 – 3,006 tests; four positive
November 1 to November 7 – 2,953 tests; three positive
November 8 to November 14 – 1,647 tests; four positive
November 15 to November 21 – 3,188 tests; six positive
November 22 to November 28 – 3,379 tests; seven positive
November 29 to December 5 – 3,154 tests; 12 positive
December 6 to December 12 – 3,805 tests; 42 positive
What else do we know?
A record-high 42 cases puts the Premier League in a precarious position heading into a busy period of fixtures. The Daily Mail report clubs are fearful of mass postponements, with four rounds of fixtures scheduled between now and the end of December.
Unsurprisingly, the Premier League have written to clubs telling them “emergency measures” have been reinstated, this includes:
- 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.
Could this cause a fixture pile-up?
Tottenham, whose game at Burnley at the end of November was also postponed due to the weather, now have two games to shoehorn into their schedule. Their postponed Europa Conference League game against Rennes will not be rescheduled.
Their next game is due to be at Leicester on December 16 and they then host Liverpool on December 19 ahead of a home Carabao Cup quarter-final against West Ham three days later.
Chelsea, currently not directly impacted by any Covid suspensions, have their own fixture pile-up to contend with due to their participation in the Club World Cup.
Chelsea could go nearly a month without playing a Premier League fixture due to the tournament in the UAE between February 3-12. Chelsea’s trip to Brighton on February 8 and the home clash with Arsenal on February 12 are set to be re-arranged, with the fixtures having to be played later in the season.
How many games were postponed due to Covid in 2020/21?
Six Premier League games had to be postponed last season due to Covid. There were rumours of a ‘circuit break’ suspension of the league after outbreaks in December and January, but postponements were restricted to a month-long period.
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